A Place called Home: The Social and Cultural Context of Health
Moore, Sharon L.
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Background Arts in health-care is an emerging movement that links the expressive arts with the healing arts and brings these into the mainstream of traditional health-care to promote well-being. Dr. Gene Cohen, who was an internationally renowned gerontologist lead the way with cutting-edge neuroscience and groundbreaking psychology to describe the emotional growth and wisdom that many older adults acquire through creative expression as they age. His research in this area demonstrated the significance of creativity in relation to aging such that it not only enables older people to have access to their own potential in later life, but it challenges younger age groups to think about what is possible in their later years in a different way. Summary of methods and results A photographic project was conducted in which data were collected at a Home for the Destitute Elderly and Children in Northern India. This visual arts project started as an endeavour to expand the scope of research, bringing together emerging fields of art, research and aging in an effort to capture the “spirit of aging” in different cultures. However, through being immersed in the culture of the Home, it became clear that the spirit of aging did not just exist in the elderly themselves, but in the rhythms of life reflected through the activities of the home. The results of the project are portrayed through an exhibit of photographs and a multimedia presentation that reflects the spirit of place. Conclusion Throughout the project, what became evident was the power of image to “bridge the chasm created by differences of language and alphabet” and reveal itself as a means for “universal communication” (Feinenger in Phillips, 2000, p. 25).