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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How visual art -making activities impact the overall wellbeing of retired seniors : a case study of Creek Springs Retirement Center in Vancouver, Canada Mugambi, Lucy

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to inquire into how engagement in visual art-making activities can impact the overall wellbeing of elderly seniors in retirement centres. My basic interest was to explore the possibilities and limitations of visual art-making activities in the lives of the seniors. As an artist, researcher and teacher, I was guided by an a/r/tographical case study methodology of research. Using living inquiry as focus, I created openings, allowed slippages and gave way for loss, shift, and rupture to create presence through absence during the visual art-making activities with the seniors. The research was situated in an independent living facility in Vancouver BC whereby the elderly seniors voluntarily had an opportunity to work with various materials and tools to create visual art works. Seventeen participants were involved in three workshops that took two hours each. As the researcher I documented the proceedings through detailed field notes, photographs, audial recording and videos. The process of art-making provided the seniors with an opportunity to relate to their lives. Art-making activities have the power to encourage conversations about the present, the past and the future thus giving hope and direction to the seniors. Visual art- making activities elicited humour leading to social enjoyment, boosted self-confidence and raised self-esteem for the seniors. This research has demonstrated that making with materials, social connectedness and the flow in the process of making are essential attributes that can contribute to the overall wellbeing of the elderly. It was also clear that completion is not an end of learning, instead it is a state of continuing change that invites the seniors to explore more creative possibilities. The study hopes to share concerns raised by the senior residents and hence benefit the larger community as programs are designed for retirement centres. This may eventually generate guidelines for directing visual art-making activities for the seniors in retirement centres.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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