Catch me at CAM! Engagement, Conversation and Art

Guest blog post by Brittney Gaudet and Elizabeth Lee

Have you ever heard of Meet Me at MoMA? Well, we as Honors College seniors and bio-medical sciences majors are trying to create a program inspired by it here at the USF Contemporary Art Museum. For those of you who may not know, Meet Me at MoMA is a community-based art engagement program orchestrated by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The program serves the surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia population plagued by progressive difficulties in communication and quality of life.

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The benefits of this program are well documented. Meet Me at MoMA program evaluation research reported that participants with dementia felt as if they once again became part of the community. Caregivers reported an increase in the number of people they felt they could call upon for support. Both groups viewed the program as relaxing, and mood increases were observed across the board. Knowing this, we have dedicated our thesis work to developing a similar program at the University of South Florida. Rather than exclusively serving the Alzheimer’s and dementia population, the focus of our program is to engage undergraduate students across all disciplines with contemporary art. We have developed a one-hour art engagement program to determine if the previously documented effects carry over to a college-aged population.

During the one-hour program, students of any discipline are invited to look at pieces by artists Luiz Zerbini and Caio Reisewitz. Rather than being told what the art represents, as is common in other docent tours, student participants are encouraged to actively speak about what they see. This allows them to create a narrative with their peers about how these pieces speak to them individually. Our hope is not only to observe positive effects for participants this semester but also to create a lasting program at CAM.

The goal of Catch Me at CAM is to engage students from all disciplines while working to expose them to an area of study relatively unfamiliar to most undergraduates. Through this, the program seeks to bring diversity to their worldviews, educations and college experiences. We hope to foster a program that equips these students with tools for effective communication, active listening and positive thinking—all of which are skills that will carry over into many aspects of their personal, educational and professional lives. Catch Me at CAM is an ongoing and evolving process, and anyone is invited to join us on our artistic journey. On most Fridays and Saturdays, you can Catch Us at CAM!

Brittney Gaudet and Elizabeth Lee are bio-medical sciences majors and seniors in the USF Honors College. They are currently completing research for their individual thesis projects at USFCAM.

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