A few years ago in a New York City Art Museum, a group of people with mid-stage Alzheimer's disease observed a Picasso painting and afterwards discussed what they saw in the painting. One man said Picasso had no words to tell his story, so he painted it. "He knows what he means, even if we do not" he added. As the member of the group voiced their feelings, no one repeated themselves, as many in that stage of Alzheimer's often are known to do.
The more we try to figure out something, the more we stimulate the brain into producing larger numbers of brain cells. This fact would support the idea that studying one of Picasso's paintings or any piece of artwork, demands that we think about and reflect upon it, and this has a beneficial effect on the brain.
The group of Alzheimer's patients also looked at "Christina's World", a painting by Artist Andrew Wyeth of a young girl sitting on the ground looking towards an old house. It appears to be a simple painting as compared to the Picasso. It also evoked thought among the group such as "Why is she sitting on the ground? Is she unable to walk? Is that her house?" One woman in the group thought that she had figured the meaning of the painting out. "The girl was trying to get into the house and would eventually get into it. I want to go there too" she added. She was thinking of her home and home is where her heart longed to be.
Visual stimuli affect us more than we realize. From the movies and television shows we watch to the images we see daily around us. For example, looking at a large mountain range or starting up towards the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic Church Cathedral produces feel-good alpha waves in our brains. Scientists agree that we need to do more research on the potential benefits of using visual stimuli in Alzheimer's and other brain-linked problems but there is a growing amount of research to support the positive effects (Charles, M. 2005).
Visual Art has many therapeutic remedies from Art Therapy to stimulating memory, thoughts and feelings to encouraging children sick in hospitals. A world without art would be a dull and sad place indeed as it would be a world without expression, creativity and imagination. When we look at the effect art has around us in our every day lives, it is easy to see the healing effect art has on our minds, hearts, lives as well as our every day culture.
Charles, M. (2005)."A Study on Art and Alzheimer's disease". "Seniors Nowadays" Magazine, December 30, 2005.
Samuels, M. (2014). "Heal Alzheimer's Disease With Art". The Huffington Post. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-samuels-md/art-alzheimers-disease_b_4309554.html.