South Carolina artist and former University of South Carolina art professor Harry Hansen continues to create art despite suffering from vascular dementia for the past ten years. He demonstrates a profound connection to his art and continues to draw or paint nearly every day. His late stage condition, which leaves him bed-ridden and mute, has not curbed his desire to create. In addition to using traditional materials to express himself he also enjoys creating on the I-pad. His remarkable story of enduring passion will be presented by his wife, Dee Hansen and daughter Susan Hansen, at the Voices and Vision in Creative Therapies in Dementia Symposium and Exhibition being held at The University of Worcester, Worcester, UK – Sept. 6, 2012, in talk a titled: “An Artist’s Immutable Passion in the Face of Dementia”. This event is being hosted by: The Association for Dementia Studies of the United Kingdom and The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care of Canada and Australia.
A local version of this presentation, open to the public will be held: Mon., Aug., 20, 2012, from 6:30-8:30pm at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 170 St. Andrews Rd in Columbia, SC. Hosted by The Mature Adult Ministry of St. Mary’s – in their Hospitality Hall.
Dee Hansen and Susan Hansen have recently launched the Immutable Passion Project to promote Harry’s story and art to a broader audience. The aim of the project is to open up a dialogue about the role of art and creativity in degenerative brain disease. Their hope is to inspire creativity and person-centered dementia care locally, nationally and internationally. In Harry Hansen’s case he was an artist before dementia who is still able to access aspects of himself, his talent and his passion that was a huge part of his life prior to the disease. There is a growing national and international movement that claims that the arts have a profound effect on retaining and honoring personhood throughout the Alzheimer’s and dementia disease process even in individuals that have no prior artistic connection.
The abstract Susan Hansen presented to The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care for consideration stated: “After a five year, dementia induced, hiatus from art, accomplished artist and former professor at University of South Carolina Harry Hansen began to draw anew. Early in the disease, approximately the first five years, it was assumed that his self-dubbed ‘art brain’ was lost. Through continual stimulation of games, puzzles, and creative opportunities – offered as a means of behavioral redirection, we discovered that they had an artistic/creative accessing effect. Upon this reconnection with his creativity, he has created hundreds of drawings that undeniably hark back to his exceptional artistic talent, to his personhood and his life long passion. We offer his story as inspiration for family members and professional caregivers to continually seek avenues that will bridge the ‘patient’ back to the ‘person’. Based upon our journey with Harry, we postulate that the ‘Self’ is not lost. Patients given ‘Opportunities of Expression’ individualized to their own story can give way to a continuous kind of ‘Presence’ that is deemed non-existent in many late stage patients. Three years mute and now bedridden, Harry Hansen continues to communicate through his daily drawings. He exhibits a more profound and remarkable ‘Presence’ than we ever dreamed possible.”
In an effort to support the Immutable Passion Project the Hansen family launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. The link to the campaign home page is: (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/116681?a=660646&i=emal).
A video for the project has been produced and posted to youtube: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUbDDjiQauk).
Facebook Fan Page: (http://www.facebook.com/ImmutablePassion).
Tags: Carolina Arts, Columbia SC, Dee and Susan Hansen, International Symposium on Creativity and Dementia, South Carolina Artist Harry Hansen, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Columbia SC, University of South Carolina, Visiting Columbia SC, Visiting South Carolina