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Meet Me | Art Making Programs for Individuals with Dementia

Video transcript
Both of us had retired not too long before we started coming to MoMA and neither one of us, I think, would have envisioned that this would be something we really got excited about. Not that we didn't appreciate art before, but participating -- we both didn't see ourselves as doing this. You know, we just would have felt "that's not us, we can't do that." But it's given us a new -- something new, so we love it. Well, for me the experience of art-making is the taking of myself out of myself -- my norm. Putting myself into another dimension, partially which I occasionally fantasize about, this becomes a reality for me. And partly, something I am tempted to do but frequently don't have the determination or guts to do. And so it gives me the opportunity to take a chance, based upon the circumstances that I have to do it, that I'm forced to do it, I do it the best I can. Part of my philosophy in life is to constantly seek out and overcome challenges. Hello. I am Laurel Humble Hi I'm Meryl Schwartz and we work on The MoMA Alzheimer's Project within the Department of Education at The Museum of Modern Art. Funded by a major grant from MetLife Foundation, The MoMA Alzheimer's Project allows Meryl and me and our colleagues in the Department of Education to develop art discussion and art-making programs for people with Alzheimer's disease and their carepartners. We teach these programs here onsite in the Museum's galleries and studio spaces, and also offsite in care facilities around the city. Based on our work with this audience, we also lead training workshops for arts and health professionals, and have developed educational resources used by staff of museums, care facilities, and other community organizations serving people with dementia and their carepartners. And one of these resources is this video! This video is for people involved in dementia care or museum and arts education who want to learn more about how to facilitate an art-making program with people with Alzheimer's disease. It is designed for individuals with varying personal and professional expertise, who are likely working in a variety of settings, each with their own logistical considerations, such as spaces, time, and budget. Accordingly, we've chosen not to focus on those aspects of programming. Instead we'll focus on the teaching strategies and other tools necessary for leading a successful art-making program, including: Some background information, like general information on dementia and MoMA's program structure and approach, and the role of the educator in creating a successful experience How you as an educator conceive of and prepare for your project How to lead your project, step by step And general tips for facilitating successful art-making programs as well as tools for troubleshooting challenging scenarios Throughout we'll include program footage and anecdotes from our experiences. While our discussion will be framed by our perspectives as museum educators working with groups in our studio spaces, the techniques we will discuss are applicable to any setting or situation, so long as you can access art-making materials and have a bit of space to work. In addition, we encourage you to think of about these programs as an opportunity for you to learn and grow. This approach should inform the decisions you make in your planning and facilitation. Throughout we will emphasize the importance of developing projects that you, as the educator, find interesting as well. In the end we hope that you will feel confident in your ability to facilitate a meaningful art-making program that leads to new understandings about the creative process and prompts new social connections among participants. ART MAKING BACKGROUND INFORMATION In this section, we'll give you some background information to consider when planning art-making programs for people with Alzheimer's disease, including what our typical program structure includes, benefits of engaging with art in general, basic information about Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, including which symptoms we most frequently encounter, and finally, a general overview of what you can do as an educator to create a successful experience. Let's start with an overview of MoMA's art making programs for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their carepartners. Both of us had retired not too long before we started coming to MoMA and neither one of us, I think, would have envisioned that this would be something we really got excited about. Not that we didn't appreciate art before, but participating -- we both didn't see ourselves as doing this. You know, we just would have felt "that's not us, we can't do that." But it's given us a new -- something new, so we love it. Well, for me the experience of art-making is the taking of myself out of myself -- my norm. Putting myself into another dimension, partially which I occasionally fantasize about, this becomes a reality for me. And partly, something I am tempted to do but frequently don't have the determination or guts to do. And so it gives me the opportunity to take a chance, based upon the circumstances that I have to do it, that I'm forced to do it, I do it the best I can. Part of my philosophy in life is to constantly seek out and overcome challenges. Hello. I am Laurel Humble Hi I'm Meryl Schwartz and we work on The MoMA Alzheimer's Project within the Department of Education at The Museum of Modern Art. Funded by a major grant from MetLife Foundation, The MoMA Alzheimer's Project allows Meryl and me and our colleagues in the Department of Education to develop art discussion and art-making programs for people with Alzheimer's disease and their carepartners. We teach these programs here onsite in the Museum's galleries and studio spaces, and also offsite in care facilities around the city. Based on our work with this audience, we also lead training workshops for arts and health professionals, and have developed educational resources used by staff of museums, care facilities, and other community organizations serving people with dementia and their carepartners. And one of these resources is this video! This video is for people involved in dementia care or museum and arts education who want to learn more about how to facilitate an art-making program with people with Alzheimer's disease. It is designed for individuals with varying personal and professional expertise, who are likely working in a variety of settings, each with their own logistical considerations, such as spaces, time, and budget. Accordingly, we've chosen not to focus on those aspects of programming. Instead we'll focus on the teaching strategies and other tools necessary for leading a successful art-making program, including: Some background information, like general information on dementia and MoMA's program structure and approach, and the role of the educator in creating a successful experience How you as an educator conceive of and prepare for your project How to lead your project, step by step And general tips for facilitating successful art-making programs as well as tools for troubleshooting challenging scenarios Throughout we'll include program footage and anecdotes from our experiences. While our discussion will be framed by our perspectives as museum educators working with groups in our studio spaces, the techniques we will discuss are applicable to any setting or situation, so long as you can access art-making materials and have a bit of space to work. In addition, we encourage you to think of about these programs as an opportunity for you to learn and grow. This approach should inform the decisions you make in your planning and facilitation. Throughout we will emphasize the importance of developing projects that you, as the educator, find interesting as well. In the end we hope that you will feel confident in your ability to facilitate a meaningful art-making program that leads to new understandings about the creative process and prompts new social connections among participants. ART MAKING BACKGROUND INFORMATION In this section, we'll give you some background information to consider when planning art-making programs for people with Alzheimer's disease, including what our typical program structure includes, benefits of engaging with art in general, basic information about Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, including which symptoms we most frequently encounter, and finally, a general overview of what you can do as an educator to create a successful experience. Let's start with an overview of MoMA's art making programs for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their carepartners. Our art-making programs last about 1 ½ to 2 hours and are taught by an educator with additional help from support staff or volunteers. At the start, the educator outlines the main ideas in the chosen project. They then facilitate a brief discussion of a few related works from the Museum's collection. Afterwards, they distribute materials and give participants ample time to create their own works. In the end participants discuss their works together. Finally, the educator concludes the program by providing last thoughts and suggestions for future art-making opportunities. Whenever possible we hold an exhibition to share the participant artwork with a greater audience. The program structure and the teaching techniques we use are well established in museum education. In fact, we use them in MoMA's education programs for people of all ages and abilities. This is because we recognize that engaging with art by making works allows all people the chance to express ideas, talents, and experiences, Create an original object that is unique to them, Experience both tactile and intellectual stimulation simultaneously, Reflect on their creation within a greater context of artistic practice, Explore and exchange ideas with other people in a social environment, And finally, to participate in a meaningful activity that fosters personal growth, These benefits apply no matter who the audience is, but they are particularly significant for individuals with Alzheimer's disease who might be experiencing a dearth of opportunities for cultural engagement and personal development. With a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease there can be an assumption that people are no longer able to learn or they won't benefit from exposure to new experiences. But surely the desire for personal growth and development remains, and participating in arts engagement programs can satisfy these lifelong needs. Moreover, making art is particularly well-suited for engaging people with Alzheimer's disease because the process of creation doesn't necessarily require short term memory. You work on a physical object that remains in front of you, and you continue to develop that object in real time. Short term memory loss is one of the main symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, but it isn't the only one. We'll talk about some of the symptoms you may encounter when working with this audience, but first, let's start with the basics: Dementia is a general term for a group of brain disorders. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. All types of dementia impair mental functioning and are severe enough to interfere with usual activities of daily life. Dementia may also affect language, visuospatial functioning and executive functioning. Some of you may already have a great deal of experience working with people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, while others may not. There are a number of resources you can turn to to find out more, including your local medical professionals, hospitals or care facilities, your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, or the National Institute on Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center. In our experience symptoms differ from person to person and many challenging behaviors can be circumvented through your planning and facilitation of the experience, as well as the tone you set as the educator. Overall, these are the symptoms we've most frequently encountered in our art making programs for people with early to mid stage Alzheimer's disease: The first is memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Participants may not remember things you or other participants have said, including the guidelines for the project at hand. We've also experienced difficulties with language. As you are conversing, it may, at times, be hard to understand a participant's words. Participants may forget words or make unusual substitutions. Some participants may have lost significant verbal ability. We've also experienced difficulties with visuospatial thinking. Participants may have difficulty navigating your set up and spaces. They may also have trouble handling certain materials. Another symptom you may encounter is apathy. Some participants may need additional or continued prompting to remain engaged. On the other hand, some participants may demonstrate a lack of inhibition or have trouble with impulse control. While some participants are more inhibited, others may be candid or unreserved. In the Tips and Tools section we'll discuss ways of addressing some of these behaviors, if they come up. Though it is important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, it should not be your focus during the program. In fact, in our programs we never mention Alzheimer's disease. Our goal is to create an experience where the presence of the disease is minimized and people of all abilities are able to engage and contribute on an equal level. So in subsequent sections we'll be focusing mainly on what you can do, as the educator, to create a successful program, one that suits all abilities. But generally speaking, what do successful educators do? A successful educator does one or more of the following at any given point during a program. First, they model positive behavior for the group by setting an inviting tone, encouraging experimentation, and by treating all participants as equally valid contributors They lead the experience, initiating the various steps of a project and maintaining an overall structure. They also listen -- they listen to participants comments so that they can better understand their interests and motivations. In addition to listening, they actively observe participants, interpreting their processes and determining where assistance is needed. Educators prompt different modes of creation, making suggestions and challenging participants to try new things. They also encourage: they provide validation and specific feedback throughout the process. And finally, they synthesize- they find and highlight connections between ideas, comments and artworks, providing continuity and cohesion throughout the program. In subsequent sections we'll talk practically about how to accomplish all these things, what they look like, and how they feed into preparation and facilitation. All in all, the project, the participants and you as the educator are all equal factors in the experience. Together you contribute to a program that includes: Generation and development of ideas and objects Validation of individual contributions and creations Socialization among participants And a general sense of sincerity and enjoyment It is important to internalize these ideas as you move forward as they profoundly affect the experience you create. ART MAKING Educator Preparation In this section we'll discuss how to prepare for an art-making project. We'll first discuss how to conceive of an art-making project, by focusing on three specific components of any project -- the materials, action, and topic. We'll explain these three components in detail and also introduce a tool that allows you to combine them to generate project ideas, called the Project Matrix. Once we have discussed how to conceive of a project, we'll then go through the things you can prepare in advance, including a structure and schedule for your program, an artwork discussion, project examples, and your spaces and supplies. So, let's begin with conceiving of a project. There are any number of approaches you could take in your planning, but for our purposes we have created a tool that will help you easily generate projects that are focused yet flexible. We call this tool the Project Matrix, and it allows you to build projects around three main components: The first is your materials- the actual items that participants will be working with, the second is your action- how participants will work with with those materials, how specifically they will manipulate them. And the third is your topic -- the broader idea that participants will explore or interpret through the creative process. These three project components work in tandem to form the substance of your project and also the parameters that give the experience structure. Let's look at each of the three project components more closely, beginning with materials. The materials are the items that participants will use to create their artworks. There are a myriad of possible materials that you can select from. Here's a selection of materials that are represented in our collection at MoMA. This is by no means an exhaustive list but merely a few ideas to help you get started. You can find inspiration for possible materials by looking at different artists' practices, or seeing what is available in art supply stores or in your immediate surroundings. There are even works in our collection that incorporate chocolate or taxidermy animals. All of which is to say that you don't need to limit yourself to what are seen as traditional art materials. Take a moment to think about possible materials that you might work with. Are there ones that aren't represented in our list here? Keep in mind that this list is fairly general; there are varieties that exist within each of the materials listed here. For instance, there are various forms of paint -- watercolor, gouache, acrylic, oil paint, egg tempera, and so one.—all with their own properties and histories. On that note, take a minute to consider one of the materials listed here and the various sub-types available. For instance, what kinds of paper are available? What kinds of different cameras could you use? Of all the materials available to you, you will eventually choose one or a couple main materials for your project. You may feel inclined to provide a great variety of materials, but we have found that this abundance can overwhelm the creative process. Further, by narrowing down the selection of materials for your project you afford participants a more focused exploration of your chosen materials' unique properties. Overall, choose materials that are age appropriate. Materials that are designed for use in schools or geared towards young children may be seen as infantilizing. Also, be mindful of the physical difficulties that might come with aging and select materials that are accessible to individuals with limited dexterity, trouble with fine motor skills or reduced vision. Avoid items that might be too small to handle or difficult to see, such as little pieces of paper and fine wire. We'll cover specific adaptations that can be made to make some art supplies more accessible in the Tips and Tools section of this video. The next project element to consider is your action. The action describes how your participants will handle or manipulate the materials. Here are some actions or processes that are represented in our collection: Some may be more familiar to you, like drawing or painting, and some, like marking or performing may be new points of departure. This is by no means an exhaustive list and it's derived from the actions undertaken by artists in our collection. Again, take a moment to come up with other actions that you could employ. Again, select one particular action in order to provide guidance for an intentional exploration of the material at hand. This allows for an experience that is more detailed and descriptive than merely quote "making" something. In general, choose an action that everyone is physically capable of doing. Again, think about the abilities within your group. In addition, you should select an action that you can demonstrate or model clearly for your participants. Your ability to explain and provide a visual reference is essential, especially if you are introducing an action that is unfamiliar to participants. The last component is the topic. A topic gives additional scope and focus to your project; it's the guiding idea that participants will explore as they are working. Some topics that we have explored in past projects include more traditional subject matter in art history, like: Portraiture, including self-portraiture and family portraiture and Landscape or Cityscapes We've also facilitated in-depth explorations of a single formal element, for instance line and color. But there are also a number of broader ideas that you could consider, such as identity and politics. Again, this list is just a jumping off point. Take some time to think about other possible topics, including other formal elements, different themes you notice in art history or the practice of other artists, or broader ideas that interest you or are most relevant to your audience and setting. Of all the possible topics, select one for your project. In general, choose a topic that: Is narrow enough to provide focus to your project. For example, just "people" as a topic might be too undirected, but narrowing down the category to family or friends provides scope to participants' explorations. At the same time, make sure your topic is general enough to still allow for multiple approaches. Projects that are too focused—for instance asking participants to depict a specific place and time as their topic, say the restaurant where they celebrated their first anniversary —may prohibit creative response. And finally, choose a topic that is relevant and accessible, and interesting to you as the educator. Now that we've considered each of the three project components individually, let's put them together, starting with materials and action. You can see that some of these actions, like photographing, are associated with a particular material, like a camera. Others are more open and can be used with any number of different materials. For instance, drawing. What does it look like to draw with pencil- a more traditional approach- as opposed to drawing with wire. What if you draw with light? What if you use your body to draw? Sometimes choosing a less obvious pairing yields more interesting artworks. Now let's add the final component—topic—in with the other two. Here you have the full Project Matrix. From here you can select one of each of the components, combining different materials, actions, and topics to generate any number of project ideas. Here's a selection of projects that we've implemented in the past: We've asked participants to build a landscape (specifically a cityscape) with pieces of wood. We've also asked participants to use newspaper to create collages about political events. We've asked participants to assemblage their own personal objects -- bringing objects from home -- to explore personal identity. We've asked participants to make a print with their body and ground charcoal as a way of investigating abstract self-portraiture. In the past we've asked participants to explore the figure by drawing with wire. We've also asked participants to investigate line by spreading ink. Take some time to think about other combinations that you could try. Again, we also encourage you to come up with your own lists of possible materials, actions, and topics, which will likely be better suited to your interests and circumstances. As you move forward you can continue to come up with ideas based on your own experiences engaging with art in cultural institutions, public spaces, or at home. So, using the project matrix as a tool we've chosen the following project combination: paper, collage, and portraiture. We'll stick with for the rest of this video, explaining the various steps of preparation and facilitation throughout. Again, the project matrix is meant to help simplify the process of generating project ideas, while also helping you to think of ways of making art that might be less obvious or straightforward. Further, the Project Matrix enables you to start with whichever component makes the most sense for you. For example, you can look at the materials you have on hand, choose one specifically to focus on, and build a project from there. Alternatively, if you are thinking about the particular themes of a special exhibition you can start by choosing a topic and then choose a material and action that will help participants explore that topic. Of course, not every combination that you come up with will necessarily work as a project. Overall, design projects that are: Geared toward all levels of artistic skill. For example, a project that asks participants to draw life-like portraits of one another using pastels may be intimidating and frustrating. There are certainly other options that are better suited for the artistic skill level of your average adult and will be more enjoyable. Design projects that are feasible in the time allotted. For example, a large landscape made using oil paint would be difficult to complete in a 2-hour session, as that particular material would need far longer to dry. Along those same lines, make sure your project is realistic considering the amount of staff you have on hand. There may be materials, actions, and topics that together will require continued guidance or assistance from staff. Be mindful of your ratio of staff to participants when choosing those components. And finally, design a project that is interesting to you as the educator. Use your own interest or excitement level as a gauge. If you're not interested in the project, then don't expect others to be. If your project meets all these criteria then it is more likely to be successful and enjoyable. That said, your group will inevitably have diverse preferences, varying experience with art, a range of cognitive abilities. Accordingly, expect that some participants might be hesitant, no matter what project you design. All of which is to say, be thoughtful in your planning but don't try too hard to anticipate how everyone will react, as you never really know. Now that we've covered how to conceive of a project, we will discuss how to prepare for that project. We'll go through preparing a structure and schedule, an artwork discussion, project examples, as well as supplies and spaces. Let's begin with your program structure. As a reminder, our typical programs take the following form. We begin with an introduction of the project's main ideas, followed by an artwork discussion that relates to the project's components: the materials, action, and topic. From there we explain and demonstrate materials and help participants think of how to get started on their works before they begin creating. We spend a significant amount of time making art but we also save time at the end for group discussion of participant artwork. We conclude by sharing last thoughts and reflections on the experience. So, in planning your project, think about these steps and how you will facilitate each stage. For instance, think about which ideas you might want to introduce from the outset. Consider your three project components. Will your chosen materials, action or topic merit definition or discussion at the beginning of your program and if so, think about how you will explain them. Will that require some additional research in advance of your program? For our example, again we've chosen paper, collage, and portraiture. Paper is a commonplace material, but participants will likely be less familiar with collage and portraiture, so we will plan to discuss these ideas at the outset. In advance, we will better familiarize ourselves with portraiture and collage processes, and spend some time thinking about how to define them in a straightforward manner. Next, think about your artwork discussion as it relates to your schedule. We'll cover how to prepare the content of your discussion shortly but for now, think about the number of works you can discuss and how much time you have to do so. Each individual artwork discussion should last no longer than 10 minutes. So, for our example we will plan to spend about 20 minutes discussing artworks from MoMA's collection, so we'll need to choose 3-4 artworks, max. Think more specifically about your materials and how you might demonstrate using them. If a material is unfamiliar to you, spend some time experimenting with it yourself in advance of your program in order to get ideas as to possible techniques that you might demonstrate. For our example, we'll experiment with the various papers we've selected, trying different ways of folding, tearing, twisting, cutting, and so on. Think about how you might help participants plan and then begin to execute their works. What will you ask them to think about before they start working? What will you ask them to do first when it's time to execute their plan? So for our example, our topic is portraiture, and that topic is fairly broad, so we'll need to break that idea down into something more manageable for participants. We'll plan to start by asking participants to consider who they'll be making a portrait of, and give them some possible options. Once they've decided who to depict we'll ask them to think more specifically about which aspects of that person they'd like to include in their portrait. The remaining portions of your program will be determined in large part by what transpires over the course of your session. How you support participants as they are making will be determined by their process and needs, and the discussion of participant works and your final thoughts will grow out of what you observe and discuss during the program. Thinking about how you'll move through each of these steps ahead of time will allow you to facilitate your program effectively and confidently. In the Leading a Project section of this video you can see clips of us executing all of these steps, continuing with our collage portraiture project. As we mentioned before, toward the beginning of your session you'll facilitate an inquiry-based discussion of about 2-4 established artworks. This discussion is meant to provide insight into your project components as well as inspiration for participants' art-making. To find these artworks, look online- on museum or gallery websites, especially, as they have higher quality images than those found on other websites. You can also think about using reproductions found in art books or posters. In general, choose artworks that: Employ the same components -- that is, the same materials, topic and action -- that your project employs. Show variety in their approach to those components, so participants are exposed to multiple perspectives on your chosen materials, action, and topic. Exhibit a range of complexity, thus broadening participants' notion of what is acceptable and accomplishable. And are clearly legible in reproduction, if that is what you'll be using. So to return to our collage portraiture project, the works that we've chosen in relation to this project are: A detail from Henri Matisse's multi-panel collage, "The Swimming Pool," made in 1952. This section depicts a horizontal figure collaged from pieces of painted paper that have been mounted onto burlap. Romare Bearden's "Patchwork Quilt," from 1970. Bearden used cut and pasted cloth and paper to depict a figure reclining on a divan with a patchwork quilt draped behind her. Chuck Close's "Phyllis" from 1982, a black-and-white collage of a woman's face, who looks straight out at the viewer. And finally, Lara Schnitger's [short "I"] "Ciara" from the year 2000, which shows the head and torso of a woman. This work was created using colorful, decorative papers cut and pasted to depict both the woman and her surroundings. All of these works approach our three project components- paper, collage, and portraiture- in different ways. For example, let's consider our topic, portraiture. The title of Schnitger's work suggests a portrait of a specific person, Ciara. Matisse's work, on the other hand, gives us no sense that this is a specific person, as he has abstracted his figure. It is therefore a less traditional kind of portrait. In terms of our material, paper, Bearden employs decorative patterns in his choice of materials, while Matisse uses simpler solids. And in terms of our final component, collage, you can see that Matisse has collaged very few pieces of paper in comparison with Chuck Close's more dense arrangement. Once you've selected your artworks, think more about how you will prepare to facilitate a conversation about them. While there are many things you could discuss within any given work, your focus should be on the elements that most relate to your project and its components. First, look closely in order to identify these components. Look for evidence of the materials, the process or action undertaken by the artist, or their approach to the topic. In addition, notice the formal decisions that the artist has made, like how they've employed or arranged lines, shapes, forms or colors. Consider how all of these elements come together to create an overall mood or effect. Pinpoint a couple of elements that you find important and craft questions that will help participants notice and describe them. For example, in the Close work I am initially struck by the texture. I want participants to think about how they might create a sense of texture in their own works. So I might plan to say something like, "Describe the surface of this work. Does it seem smooth or rough? Let's think more specifically about the individual pieces of paper Close used, how would you describe their edges?" In addition, I'd want participants to notice how Close built up his surface by layering pieces of paper on top of one another and overlapping them, so I might ask something like, "How are the pieces of paper arranged? Does this image seem light to you, or dense?" Alternatively, what strikes me most about the Matisse work is that he created a figure seemingly in motion, and used very few pieces of paper to do so. I'm going to want participants to notice these aspects of the work so they, too, might think about depicting movement as a viable option for their own collages. As such, I'll ask something like "What does this figure seem to be doing?" "Does he seem to be moving or staying still?" "How did the artist create that sense of movement?" And, finally, "roughly how many pieces of paper did the artist use to create that effect?" In addition to looking closely, do some research about the artworks and the artist who made them. Find detailed information about each work's materials, the action or process employed, and the artist's approach to the topic. Learn what you can about the artist's motivations behind making these choices. Consider how this work relates to the artist's practice overall. As you're deciding which art historical points you might share during your discussion, prioritize that which is most relevant to your project and what you will be asking participants to do. So going back to my Matisse, through the course of my research, I learned about his process in making this work -- that he generally cut the shapes out freehand, using a small pair of scissors and saving both the item cut out and remaining scraps of paper. Then he and his assistants would painstakingly arrange and re-arrange his loose pieces of cut paper before pinning and then finally pasting them down. I'll prioritize sharing this information during my discussion because it relates to the collage process that I'll be asking participants to try. I also found out a bit more about his overall practice -- that he started his career in the early 20th century working with painting and sculpture and didn't turn to collage until later in life. Prior to your program create an artwork that employs your project components, which will serve as an example during your program. Creating a project example allows you to go through the steps of the project yourself, which will better familiarize you with the process you'll be asking participants to undergo, and also allows you to identify and resolve any potential trouble spots. Examples should demonstrate various techniques or approaches to your project components and should represent what is realistically possible given the timeframe and supplies you'll provide. Don't utilize materials or spend more time than will be available to participants. For our project we've created two example works. I created a portrait of Laurel. I wanted to provide an example of a portrait of a person I knew. I used scissors to create the various components of Laurel's face, hair, and clothing. I created a portrait of an imaginary figure, a frog prince. I opted to create my portrait by just tearing and folding paper, forgoing the use of scissors. I wanted to create a finished project employing a more accessible method of working with paper. On the day of your program, prepare your spaces and supplies. Arrange your space in a way that allows all participants room to work and to interact with each other. Your set up should afford you access to each participant, so that you'll be able to interact with them individually during the program. Gather all the materials necessary and organize them in a way that will allow you to easily access and distribute them later on. So for our program we will gather different varieties of paper, making sure to account for the background paper that participants can use as a surface as well as various kinds of colored and decorative papers that they'll use to create an image. We'll go ahead and cut some of that paper into different shapes, in case anyone prefers to work with pre-existing pieces. We'll also pull out scissors and glue and plan to arrange our tables in a U-shape so participants can see us and each other. In general, when conceiving of and preparing to lead an art-making project: Develop a project that is both focused and flexible. Whether or not you choose to use the Project Matrix in your planning, projects with defined parameters are easier to follow for participants, and easier for you to facilitate clearly. Consider the accessibility of your project. Choose project components that can be clearly explained and that are engaging for participants with a diverse range of physical and cognitive abilities, as well as varying levels of artistic expertise. Choose artworks and create project examples that will inspire creative thinking and variety of approach, not discourage personalized exploration and response. Combine your project components in a way that is interesting to you as the educator. You'll be having your own experience with your project -- both in your preparation and when you facilitate the program -- so you should be excited about it. Keeping these things in mind as you conceive of and prepare for your project will allow you to prompt individualized artistic explorations without over-determining participant experience. ART-MAKING LEADING A PROJECT In this section we'll cover how to lead an art-making project, which includes the following steps: Welcome -- setting up the experience Discussing Artworks -- facilitating a conversation about works of art for inspiration Explaining Materials -- defining and demonstrating the materials that will be used Starting the Art-Making Process -- helping participants begin to create Supporting the Art-Making Process -- continuing to support individual participants and the group once everyone has started to work Sharing Works Created-- presenting and discussing participant artwork, and finally Conclusion and Project Extension- providing final thoughts on the experience and suggestions going forward This structure is meant to provide you with a flexible outline for facilitating your project. It is grounded in prevailing practices in museum education. We use it as a guide for structuring our programs for people with Alzheimer's disease and their carepartners but also with other Museum audiences, because it allows for various forms of interpretation and creation, no matter participants' level of ability, and connects the art-making process to ideas and works in MoMA's collection. In this section we'll cover how to structure an art-making program in general, without focusing too directly on the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Information pertaining specifically to this audience will be covered in the next section, Tips and Tools, as will ways of creating a supportive and validating environment. The tone you set is just as important as the structure you follow. Further, this structure can accommodate many different kinds of projects. The materials, action, and topic that form the parameters of your particular project, may determine how quickly you move through certain parts. For instance, in a project where the materials are intuitive and the process straightforward, say arranging adhesive stickers on paper, your material explanation might be much quicker. On the other hand, multi-step project like block-printing might require a more prolonged explanation. As we go through we'll continue with our example project employing paper, collage, and portraiture, including clips from a program that Laurel and I co-taught in our studio spaces. In a typical MoMA program there is one lead educator, with additional support staff. But, for the sake of filming, we taught this session together. Let's get into the details of leading a project, beginning with welcome. To begin your program, welcome participants with a relaxed and inviting tone and orient the group to the experience. Introduce yourself and outline the upcoming project. As we discussed in the Educator Preparation section of this video, you should already have your materials set up in an organized and accessible fashion, so as to be able to engage with participants as soon as they walk in. After introducing yourself and the project, give a brief outline for your program. Frame participants' expectations as to what is to come. Additionally, it's important to communicate the goals of the experience-- to explore and experiment as you work on an image or object-- and to emphasize what is possible in the time allotted. Here's a clip of Laurel framing the session and communicating its goals: We're going to spend about an hour and a half today working. We're going to start out by discussing a few works of art from our collection, then we're going to work for a bit, and then at the end we'll have an opportunity to see what everyone else has made and to share a bit with each other. Collage can be a really labor-intensive process, and some of the works we're going to talk about today took months and months to create. So, it's just to say that we're not necessarily going to make the next "museum masterpiece" since we only have an hour and a half, we can only accomplish so much. But the goals are just to experiment with the materials, and explore some of the ideas that we're going to be discussing, and to see what we come up with. You can see that Laurel encouraged participants to use the time to explore and create. She also stressed that there was only a limited amount of time within which to work. This was not meant to limit participants but rather to take the pressure off and encourage experimentation. From there, elaborate the project's focus and explain the key project components. As mentioned in the Educator Preparation section of this video, you should decide ahead of time which project components merit definition. Here's Meryl elaborating on two components: Today we're going to be doing a paper collage project as a way of exploring portraiture. Collage -- I just found this out -- the word collage comes from the French work "to glue", and it involves taking parts of things -- "little bits and scraps" -- exactly, just like Carol said, little bits of this and that, right. The materials can be anything; we're going to work with paper today, some artists use fabric, some use newspapers or magazines. Taking little bits of this and that, like Carol was saying, rearranging them, and making a new thing. That's what collage is. The second thing we're exploring today, as I mentioned, is portraiture. So what do you think of when I say the word "portraiture", what's that? I see Carol going like this, so we're on to something It's a real formal focus on one particular thing, and really paying attention to that object. Absolutely right. So portraits are normally very focused, they're just of one thing, and what is that one thing that they're normally of? Person's face A face, exactly. Marty, you were going to say that too? Exactly, right. Some portraits are very lifelike and others can be a bit more abstract or just capture one or two of the physical attributes that define a person. And we're going to look at a couple examples in a second of both of those different kinds of portraits. You can see in the clip that Meryl defined the ideas of collage and portraiture. Before giving her definitions, however, she asked participants if they had heard of or experimented with these ideas before, honoring their prior knowledge and experiences. Once you've introduced your project, you will lead a short inquiry-based discussion about your preselected artworks. The artwork discussion is meant to provide inspiration and to contextualize the experience within a larger framework of artistic practice. Distribute and discuss each work one-by-one. If possible, have a large central image around which you can unite the group, and also pass out reproductions to each participant so that they can look at the works more closely and continue to refer to them throughout the experience. As you start your discussion, explain to participants that you'll be showing examples of artworks that employ the same materials, action or topic that they will also be exploring, that you plan to spend about 5-10 minutes discussing each of these works and that you're eager to hear their thoughts. Here's an example: We're going to look at a few works from the collection so we can get some inspiration for our own art-making process. The artists that we're going to show you have employed different materials, have used different processes of building the works that they've created. So you can use their ideas to, you know, help you get started or for inspiration, but you can also feel free to depart from what they've done. In that clip Laurel explained the purpose of looking at artworks, though she indicated that participants had a choice as to whether or not they would like to incorporate the techniques viewed into their own making. It is important to emphasize to participants that they are not meant to just copy the style of one artist. As you move through the discussion, ask questions that prompt explorations of the particular approach to the materials, action, or topic within each work. Point participants to the formal properties of the work, specific decisions made by the artist, the resulting image and overall effect. Here's a clip from Laurel's discussion of our final artwork, Chuck Close's "Phyllis". Looking closely at our last work of art, do you have a sense of how it might be made or what materials are that this artist has used? Crepe paper Gray paper? Crepe Oh yeah, that textured paper, crepe paper, right? Confetti! And Carol, what made you think of confetti? It's small and round Does everyone notice that there are little round pieces of paper of different kind of shades of white to black, that have been layered over each other to build up the image of this person? But it's also interesting -- --you can put it wherever you want Yeah, you can put it wherever you want, exactly. As Carol's saying -- and this is exactly what we'll be doing -- we'll be layering and arranging pieces of paper to create an image of a person or another kind of figure. There are not smooth edges on the paper. They're all kind of, a little bit uneven, an effect or they're serrated in some fashion, so that adds an additional interest to this composition. Yeah, and I'm going to repeat back what Lynne said. It's interesting that the edges of the little pieces of paper that are used to construct this image aren't perfectly even. It's not like they're cut up squares or smooth, they're really rough, exactly, and in fact when we're making our works today you can think about that. You can sort of fold or tear and think about different ways of manipulating the paper to get a certain effect like that. In the clip Laurel asked questions that encouraged participants to examine the materials used in the work, in this case paper, and then to think of how they were applied to create the image of "Phyllis." She also linked participants' observations about Close's choice of paper to choices that they might consider when working later on. It is important to make this direct link, always situating the artworks shown during the discussion within the context of the art-making process to come. Remember, when facilitating a discussion about artworks at the beginning of your art-making program, the emphasis is less on building a personal and collective interpretation of the work, considering its broader significance in art and world history, than on asking questions that prompt close attention to the materials, action, or topic. Encouraging participants to think about how something is made will lay the groundwork for their own making. Once you've concluded your discussion, introduce and explain your materials. Review the various materials that you have available and demonstrate as necessary. Here's an example of Meryl reviewing our project's materials: So everyone will get the same background paper, and then we're also going to be working with a variety of colored and patterned paper. And they have different textures and weights, so they fold and tear differently. You can tell, actually, Carol, that this paper is very easy to fold. It's very light, if you want to hold it. And so that's something to think about as you're making your own work. as well, right, the paper that rips easily or tears easily versus the paper that is a little weightier. And then, of course, we've gone ahead and precut some paper here as well, and so everyone should have some of this in front of them. There's solid colors on the one half and then some of this precut pattern paper on the other half, so that might be nice to try to experiment with too. You can see that Meryl clearly explained the kinds of paper that were provided and their varying properties. Don't assume that everyone is an expert. You should explain what is available, even if the materials seem straightforward. Once you've introduced the materials, explain a bit more about how to use or manipulate them. One way to do this is to show participants your project example. Here is a clip of Laurel showing an example of a collage portrait she made prior to the program: And so here's an example I made just be tearing and folding. If you look at some of the details, you'll notice that I folded this crown into the spikes, I made a bit of a frog prince here today. And then ripped the eyes out and the nose to create all of the facial features, and then again sort of folded this patterned paper at the bottom to create a sense of his collar. In her explanation Laurel described some of the ways that she used the paper to create aspects of the Frog Prince's body and dress. She also emphasized that the work was created without using scissors. You can also create or at least start to create a work in front of participants, in order to show firsthand ways of working with the materials. Here is an example: So today I'd like to make a portrait of Meryl. Then what I'm going to start with is just to do her face -- cut out a face for her. But you know, Meryl sometimes when she gets really excited or maybe is like a little a bit anxious she turns bright red, so I'm going to do her face in bright red. So you can just cut out a shape that, you know, she's got ears, but then if I'm thinking maybe I want to do her hair, today she wore her hair curly which I really like and I want to see if I can maybe get some different textures in there, right, some shape and some depth. So maybe I want to use a few different kinds of reddish browns or maybe I'll get even less lifelike and throw some purple in and just sort of layer them. And for these I'm just going to rip, maybe, and maybe I'll do a little bit of an accordion fold to get some of the curl, the texture. So now you can see my Meryl is sort of coming to life. In that clip Laurel quickly planned and started a work, narrating her thoughts and process. She modeled how you might get started, by cutting out a face, and then demonstrated a few different techniques, including cutting, folding and tearing. Moreover, in her brevity and low-key manner she implicitly conveyed that the task of art-making was not meant to be intimidating. You can also demonstrate techniques without actually starting a work, and ask participants to try them out with you as you go. This is an especially good idea if you are working with a material that is new and unfamiliar to participants, as it gives them a chance to try things out before working on a final product. Distribute relevant materials, but don't pass out everything at this point, as some materials might serve as a distraction during your demonstration. After you've introduced and explained your materials, begin the art-making process. Give participants an opportunity to plan their work and provide some instruction or guidance on how to begin. It can be difficult to transition from discussion and instruction to creating a work, so providing initial prompts can ease participants into the art-making process. While the particular prompts you give will be specific to your project, it's generally a good idea not to give too many directions at once. Instead, your initial prompts should be concise and concrete. Let's take a look: The first thing to do as you're thinking about creating your own collages is to decide who you want to be making a collage of -- you want a person, exactly -- who you want to be making your collage portrait of. So you can make a self portrait, you can choose someone in this room, like I chose Laurel. Sometimes it's nice to have a visual reference right on hand. Or, you know, you can choose an imaginary person -- our definition of portraiture is loose today. You can also feel free to abandon your ideas later if the materials sort of take you in a different direction. For example, if I want to make a portrait of my Mom but I really like that shiny paper and my mother becomes an astronaut, that's fine too. So maybe take a second to think about who you want to make a portrait of, some of their defining physical attributes, or something about their personality and turn to the person next to you and let them know who you think you're going to be creating a picture of today. So, Marty and Susie you said you're going to work together, who are you going to be making today? Okay, so Marty is going to be making a collage portrait of Susie with Susie's input. And then the second thing to do, after you've chosen your person, is to think about if you want to make just a face or a bust, like in the Chuck Close, right, or if you want to make a whole body or even, you know, a body in action the way that we saw with the Matisse work here. Right, so again, something else to consider: who you're going to be making and what part of their body you want to be depicting. In that clip you can see that Meryl asked participants to consider who might be the subject of their portrait and presented a few possible options. She also kept the process open, reiterating that it's okay to change your mind midway. After having participants discuss their ideas, she then asked them to further develop their plan and consider what part of the person they wanted to focus on. Indeed, breaking up these two ideas better facilitated participant planning. It is generally best to ask participants to consider one idea at a time. Further, by asking participants to discuss their ideas together Meryl encouraged continued conversation. Sharing thoughts with another person also creates a memory prosthesis, which is helpful for those with short-term memory loss. Once participants have an idea of what they will make, make sure they have all the necessary materials to start their work. Walk around to each participant and reiterate the prompts individually. Often, participants need a bit of personal attention at the outset to help get them started. Further, you can get a sense of where they are going with their project so that you can return to them constructively later on in the process. Throughout the art-making process, continue to support participants. Encourage them as they work, prompting different avenues of exploration and assist participants when necessary. Begin by moving around freely and observing participants as they work. See if anyone needs any additional materials or other supplies and assess the various members of the group to see if anyone might benefit from more targeted assistance. As their projects are developing, ask participants about the choices they've made and the direction they are going with their work. Provide constructive and specific encouragement, incorporating what they might have said and what you've noticed. You can also touch on comments they might have made during the artwork discussion, reintroducing what they said and connecting it to their process. You can also provide participants with a range of options as to how they might move forward, encouraging experimentation and exploration. Here's an example: We can also trying moving them around, arranging them. Yeah, yeah. Maybe that's better. Maybe that's better? Yeah, I think so. Well, you show me and I'll just do the gluing for you. I think it would be better on the side. I like that you had it sort of looking over to the side. How's was that? Was that the first pose? In that clip Meryl suggested that Carole play with the placement of her figure's eyes, moving them around and trying different arrangements before making a decision. Prior to that, Carol and I had spent some time thinking about how to make the eyes. We tried cutting one eye out and tearing the other to see which one she preferred. As participants are working, you should provide suggestions as to how they might accomplish a particular aspect of their work or expand the techniques they are using. Provide a practical visual reference by demonstrating individually how to achieve or incorporate what it is you are suggesting. Sometimes it's not enough to just mention a method of working, but physically demonstrating can be helpful. You can also reintroduce one or some of the artworks discussed earlier. Highlight similarities and differences in order to generate new ways of working or validate a participant's process thus far. But just remember that if you are going to refer to something you've seen or discussed earlier you should have a visual reference on hand as a reminder. As people are working, hold up works in progress so that participants can see other approaches. Encourage participants to look at each other's work throughout the session. Here's an example: Do you mind if I hold yours up to show everyone? Well look at that, that's gorgeous! So I just want to show everyone an example of someone's work so far. Lynne has been doing a portrait of Manny. Wow, that's great! Not very good. Ty is a tough critic but I really like how you've already gotten his beard and the texture of his hair on top of his head. In that clip Laurel got everyone's attention before sharing Lin's work-in-progress, thus maintaining group cohesion and prompting exchange among participants. As time winds down, let participants know how long they have left to work so they can finish up before sharing with the group. About 15 minutes before the end of your program bring the art-making to a close and give participants a chance to present and discuss their works with each other. This discussion allows for individual validation and strengthens connections among participants. Here's an example of Laurel initiating this step: I know that some of you guys are still working, and again we'll send you home with some of the supplies so you can continue to work at home if you like, but for now let's see what everyone has made, okay? In that clip you could see that Laurel expressed enthusiasm at seeing participants' work and reassured everyone that they could continue to work later on if need be. Go around to each participant and invite them to present their work to the group, or ask if you can share on their behalf. If a participant is willing to share, ask them about their process and/or the decisions they've made and pull from conversations you had as they were working. Let's take a look: And then I want to show Marty's portrait of Suzy. Surreal portrait of Suzy. The surreal portrait of Suzy, is what Marty said. Oh, that's nice! Oh yeah! So this is Marty's portrait of Suzy. So Marty, what were some of the aspects of Suzy that you wanted to capture, besides her hair? Her vibrancy, with the colors. And her openness, through the length of the paper...and the diversity. The diversity. And then the.. vibrancy you said also, with the choice of paper. It looks like you did choose papers that had some sparkle and had some bright colors, vivid colors. It's very vibrant. And I think the texture that you created also plays into that. And Suzy, do you see a little bit of yourself in it? I'm very flattered. In that clip Laurel asked Marty to discuss some of Suzy's particular characteristics that he wanted to capture or communicate, linking them to his choice of paper and use of texture. In addition, you can ask participant's to title their work, and to provide some explanation for that title, in order to gain greater insight into what they've made and why. Throughout, draw comparisons between participant artworks. Find and comment on similarities or differences in how participants approach your project components. You can facilitate comparison by displaying the works together, either by placing them on a table or adhering them to the wall. This also allows participants to see works made by those who may not want to share individually in front of the group. Once you've finished discussing participant work, bring your program to a close. Summarize the experience and consider how participants might continue with the ideas explored. Thank everyone for their time and participation. Share final thoughts or observations from the session, as well as any logistical information, such as ways of transporting artworks, or information about future programs. If possible, display artworks in an exhibition. This public forum allows for further validation and extends the experience beyond the time in the studios. It connects your work and that of your participants to a broader audience. Display works in a quality fashion and be intentional in your curation. Title your show and provide an explanation of the ideas and processes explored by participants, using language that communicates the value and sincerity of the work. If possible, hold an opening reception for the show so that participants can share their experience with family and friends. In general, as you lead your art-making project, keep the following in mind: Provide some initial structure but allow the project to flow Customize prompts, materials, and assistance based on individual preference and ability, and Encourage both individual and group exploration By internalizing these ideas you will allow participants to create original, personal works of art that are connected to broader ideas in art and art history. ART MAKING TIPS AND TOOLS In this section, we'll go over general tips and tools for successfully facilitating your art-making program. We'll first share with you some practical tips for leading your program and then discuss some challenging scenarios that may come up and ways you can address them. So, let's begin with general facilitation strategies. No matter the group you're working with, it can sometimes be difficult to balance the interests, abilities, and personalities of each of the participants. We'll next discuss some general facilitation techniques that will help to foster an environment that encourages individual creation and group cohesion: The first technique is to animate the experience, yourself. Show your enthusiasm. Think of the experience as an opportunity to be your most performative self. But make sure your level of animation does not come across as insincere. Also, share personal information about yourself in order to make participants feel more comfortable with you. Doing so makes the whole experience feel less formal or intimidating. In the same vein, ask participants to respond to the project by drawing on their own personal experiences, when appropriate. Also, use what you know about them as individuals to prompt or validate their process. Let's take a look at this: So I, you know, Carole and I were having trouble coming up with what person to make but Carole was a teacher and loved kids, still loves kids, so we decided on a baby. And do you want to talk a little more about some of these decisions, Carole? Carole, you mentioned that we were tearing all of this paperÉ Yeah, I do like torn paper for something like this. I agree. In that clip, you saw Meryl sharing Carol's motivation for choosing to create a portrait of a child. As Carol and I were working I encouraged her to draw on her own life experiences when trying to decide what kind of figure to create. Address participants by name and make eye contact. Don't be afraid to address people directly -- use their name when you are working with them or when you ask them to share their opinions or ideas. Make eye contact in order to convey sincere engagement. As you are facilitating your program, repeat often. This includes repeating participant comments back to the whole group during your group discussions, as well as reiterating prompts and guidelines frequently, both to the group as a whole and one-on-one. This strategy ensures that those with short-term memory loss or those with hearing difficulties are not at a disadvantage. Let's take a look at Laurel using this technique during the artwork discussion: What's interesting also about the little pieces of paper is that they're not smooth edges on the paper, they're all kind of a little bit uneven. They have a ripple effect or they're serrated in some fashion, so that adds an additional interest to this composition. Yeah, and I'm gonna repeat back what Lynne said. She said it's interesting that the edges of the little pieces of paper that are used to construct this image aren't perfectly even, it's not like they're cut up little squares or smooth. They're really rough, exactly. You can see that Laurel first told the group she was going to repeat Lin's comment, and then did so, in order to ensure that everyone heard and understood. During your facilitation, try not to mention materials, techniques, artists or artworks that aren't immediately visible to participants. If you want to bring something up that's not visually available, try to find or create a visual reference. Only reference that which can be seen and understood by everyone, otherwise you put those with short term memory loss or those newer to art-making at a disadvantage. As much as possible, try to invest quality time with each individual as they are working. Pull up a chair so that you're at eye level. Ask the participant about their artistic decisions, give feedback or give them choices on how to proceed. By sitting down with each participant you communicate your interest in their work and gain better understanding of their interests and processes, which will play into the discussion of participant artwork to come. Though some people may need more assistance than others, try to check in with everyone at some point. By divvying up your attention in order to connect with each participant you maintain an environment where everyone is treated equally. Encourage participants to experiment freely and enjoy the process, even if that means deviating from the project parameters. Don't over-direct or over-determine someone's art-making process by forcing them to work in the ways that you had anticipated. Right, it's a fine line between helpfully assisting and making decisions for someone. In emphasizing process and encouraging experimentation, you may get a wider range of final products, but this is a good thing and you should embrace it! When responding to participants' works, go beyond saying that you quote "like it." Look closely at the work and identify the choices that the participant has made and validate them specifically. General feedback, like "that's really nice" can come off as superficial and patronizing. Let's take a look: One thing that I really liked is that you were sure to depict me here and now, and in my exact same outfit even with the example artworks in the background. The tilt of the head is so lifelike! It's excellent, and the hairline... You can see that Laurel has not just generally praised Ed's work, but found something specific -- that he provided context for his portrait by including the details of the room-- to comment on and draw others' attention to. Throughout the program, create opportunities for exchange between participants. Remember, while all participants work individually, this is also a social experience. For example, encourage participants to look at and comment on one another's work throughout the program by holding up works in progress for consideration. If some people finish early, encourage them to walk around and observe others. As participants finish, collect all works in one place so group-members can easily admire and compare them. Point out commonalities during your discussion of participant works. Let's take a look at Laurel encouraging the group to compare two works at the end of the program: I wanted to show these together because I like how you both used minimal facial features and created these facial expressions on both of your figures. And I like these are all torn and cut and there's something kind of soft and squishy about your baby, Carole, and then for Ty's work all these angular features of his nose, and his eyes, and his eyebrows. And the horns, how could I forget the horns! He has a very satanic face. You can see that we held up both works so as to draw attention to similarities and differences in the two participants' approaches. Throughout your program, maintain a degree of lightness and humor. Remember, one of the goals is to create a fun experience where participants are able to relax and enjoy themselves. From the start and throughout, set a tone that communicates these goals. There can be a level of insecurity or intimidation that comes with art-making, especially if it's new to some of your participants. Additionally, the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may create moments of embarrassment. But by maintaining a light and relaxed tone, any moments of awkwardness or embarrassment will be minimized as you move forward and stay focused on the project at hand. As with any audience, there are a number of challenging scenarios that may come up as you're facilitating your program. We'll next go through a number of situations we've encountered and suggestions for how to address them. So the first one that we often experience, no matter the group, is that participants can be slow to get started in the art-making process. It can be a challenge to switch gears from conversation to creation. After you've presented the materials and guidelines it is helpful to walk around the group and prompt participants one-on-one. Sometimes participants just need this additional cue to know that it's time to get started. If you notice that a participant is still having trouble beginning their work ask if they have the materials they need. Once they do, re-demonstrate how to use them one on one. Speak to them at eye level to be sure you are connecting. If that doesn't work, start to make suggestions for how to begin. So, for example with this collage project, one of our participants was slow to get started. After I re-iterated the prompt and redemonstrated the materials, I asked if I could work with her. We chatted and it became clear that she was stuck on deciding who to depict but she was sure she wanted to create a bust, not a whole body. So I suggested that regardless of who she ended up making, we'd need to start with a head. She agreed and so I handed her some scissors and offered her a range of flesh-tone paper. I asked her to choose one of the papers and to cut it into an oval. For her, this initial suggestionâ to make a head -- paired with clear, concise instructions -- to cut the paper into an oval -- was enough and she took off with the project on her own after that. But if she had still not responded, I could have cut or torn a number of shapes that resembled eyes, noses or lips myself, and asked her to make a selection and arrange them to her liking. Then, if she had still been hesitant, I could have placed the first piece onto the paper for her, and encouraged her to build her image from there. Right, if it comes to it, try making the first mark or the first move with whatever material it is you're using merely to break up the intimidation of the blank surface. Personally I even find it easier to work off of a preexisting image or a mark than to start from nothing. Once you've made a suggestion as to how to get started, move on and give your participant time to process the idea. Don't hover, but check back later. Generally, if a participant is not taking to the project, encourage collaboration and take a more active role -- offer to work with the person or suggest that they work with some one else. Some participants may have difficulty using your materials but there are a few things that you can do to make them easier to work with. First, take steps to ensure that participants can see the materials clearly by increasing the contrast between the table surface and your materials. For example, don't use white paper on a white table. In general, be mindful of the size of your materials. Very small items or utensils may be difficult to see and/or hold. You may need to find ways to make the materials easier to handle. For example, if you are working with clay you can warm it up with your hands to make it softer or more malleable. Or if you are working with wire, have multiple gauges on hand so participants can choose the one they're able to bend most easily. Finally, encourage alternative ways to get to the same end. For example, if participants are having trouble with scissors, suggest tearing or folding instead. It's easier and the end result is the same. Or, find ways to assist with this step ahead of time. For instance, for our project, we pre-cut a variety of paper. If those adjustments don't work, find a way to help execute the creative choices of a participant more actively. For example, the balsa foam we use for block printing workshops can be difficult to carve for some. So, I have had participants draw their work onto the balsa foam and then I've gone through after to deepen the lines, so as to ensure a clear print. You may work with a participant whose physical limitations make independently creating their own work impossible. In that case you can act as their proxy, prompting them to make decisions and then executing those decisions for them. For example with collage portraiture, you could ask the participant what color paper they want for the various facial features, then offer them a range of options in that color, eventually cutting some options for them to choose from in their selected hue. You could then demonstrate possible arrangements and ask which they prefer, and so on. Don't make participants feel uncomfortable about your assisting them. I even tell participants that many contemporary artists today make the creative decisions but have others carry out the tasks. The aesthetic decisions are the most important part of the art-making process. Focus on them and you'll highlight the participant's successes. Another scenario we've seen is when participants do not create something within the framework you've provided. In short, who cares? The diversity of your participant artworks represents the degree to which you've allowed each individual to exercise their unique creative agency. Embrace these individual approaches and interpretations. While you provide structure and guidance, participants may prefer to engage on their own terms and in their own way. If participants deviate from the instructions, it's not a failure on their end, nor a failure of the project or facilitator, but just an honest expression of that person's preferences. You may be tempted to try and re-route participants toward the instructions you've outlined, but be wary of hindering someone's creative expression -- we've seen good intention backfire, so to speak. Instead, focus on the process behind their product. Try pointing out something about their work that is interesting to you, and ask the participant about their aesthetic choices, whether or not it's within the frame of your project components. Encourage and validate, no matter the final product. Interest and abilities within any given group may vary, and balancing those needs can be challenging. One of the ways this most often manifests is that some participants may finish their project far before everyone else and some don't finish at all within the allotted time. Be sure to have extra materials on hand ahead of time so that if someone finishes early, you can encourage them to start a second work. Add some sort of adaptation to the guidelines or make suggestions for how to do things differently to keep the second endeavor fresh. For our example, if a participant were to finish a portrait of their husband's face, I might then encourage them to start a new version, but this time, depicting his whole body. If participants are not interested in continuing to work, suggest that they walk around and look at other works or even assist you. No matter what, encourage them to stay involved in the group in some way. Alternatively, if a participant does not finish in time, be sure to include them in your group discussion, sharing their piece as a "work in progress." Send materials home with them so that they may complete the work on their own time. Of course these are only a handful of the challenging situations you could encounter. Every time we teach there's a new challenge and surprise and we're constantly learning and improving our practices as educators. In sum, remember to Take the lead. You have the ability to inform how participants engage through your approach and demeanor. If you remain relaxed and flexible, if you're enjoying yourself, sincerely appreciating participant contributions, and setting a respectful tone, then others will do the same. Address and encourage each participant. Individualize the art-making process by making adaptations freely, based on each person's needs or interests. Moreover, encourage each individual participant to interpret your guidelines as they please. Show genuine interest in participants' ideas and decisions. Foster connections between participants. Though every participant may be working individually, this is still a social experience. Take advantage of the fact that everyone's in the same room together. Encourage participants to learn from one another and enjoy each other's company. With these approaches in mind you'll be able to facilitate your project in a way that minimizes challenging moments and encourages varied forms of creative engagement.