Menu Close

Creative Connections: Arts & Dementia

About Creative Connections: Arts & Dementia

In January and February 2023, more than 60 people of diverse ages worked with Indigenous artist Naomi Smith to create clay artworks.

The project aims to increase awareness about how being creative can promote healthy wellbeing at any age and how it can help people live well with dementia. Creativity allows us to feel connected to ourselves and the world around us.

Doing something creative pulls us into the present, allows us to explore new skills, and helps us find and share moments of joy. We hope this exhibition will inspire you to get creative and connect with those around you.

The clay workshops were inspired by an artwork in the permanent collection at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery by artist Agnes Olive. The artwork was brought out of storage to inspire workshops in Elmira, Kitchener, and Waterloo.

This project was generously funded by the Government of Ontario, Seniors Community Grant Program.

Thank you to the following groups for taking part:

Abraham Erb Public School, Waterloo

Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Wellington

Barnswallow Place Care Community, Elmira

The Yoda Group, Sunnyside Home, Kitchener

About Lead Artist Naomi Smith

Artist Statement

First of all I would like to thank the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery for inviting me to share with the various groups we worked with for this inspiring project.

The artwork we used for generating important conversations and teachings was a beautiful and mysterious piece by Agnes Olive. It wasn’t until after I selected her piece that I realized she was an artist I had met years prior when she was working out of her studio in Terra Cotta Ontario. Agnes Olive’s local connection was a happy discovery and actually connected me more to the piece. Her ‘Untitled’ raku piece is substantial enough in its own right. I certainly appreciated many things about the piece, first being the shape and mastery of how it was created.

As an Indigenous person the braids and circular form also spoke to me as it related to cultural teachings from my community. The perceived, almost human, elements of her sculpture also drew me to the piece from a point of mystery or mystic. Finally I felt it would inspire conversations and creative explorations from the various groups we shared this work with. Alongside Agnes Olive’s art piece we discussed how it related to my indigenous ways of knowing which were incorporated into the many beautiful clay pieces that came out of the workshops.

I can’t help but feel that Agnes would be proud knowing that her artwork continues to inspire the young and older generations alike. Art is one of the strongest ways we communicate and connect with the world and the objects shown here are perfect examples of this.

Chi miigwetch.

Artist Bio

Naomi is an Indigenous Artist, Maker and Educator from the Chippewas of Nawash Nation in Neyaashiinimiing. For over 25 years Naomi has focused on sharing teachings about the Indigenous people of the Woodlands and Northeastern region from a historical and contemporary perspective often through the story of beads. Her work embraces ancestral designs in the form of bags, adornment and traditional accessories.

Naomi’s work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally. She has exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) (Smithsonian) in Washington DC and New York, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Artwork being made

Naomi Smith working with Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Wellington

Naomi Smith working with Grade 5 Students from Abraham Erb Public School

Exhibition at the Gallery March 1 – 29, 2023

Celebration at the gallery March 29, 2023

Postcard Activity

Thank you to our supporters

This project was funded by the Government of Ontario, Seniors Community Grant Program