A guest post by ARTZ Intern Emily Markovich
As my internship at ARTZ Philadelphia comes to close, I have been reflecting upon my time working with this wonderful organization. One year ago I was applying to different internships and feeling a bit lost. I was nervous that I would not be able to find an organization that was a good fit for me. When I discovered ARTZ, I was very excited. I have been a dancer since I was three years old, so I have always had a great appreciation for the arts. I knew from personal experience how the arts can have powerful, positive impacts on the mind. I also had a personal connection to dementia as my grandfather had dementia and some of my fond, last memories with him were playing games and showing him videos and songs that would stimulate his mind. When I had my interview with Susan, Robin, Cleo, and Shane, I could tell instantly that they were all kind and caring humans, and I knew that ARTZ was the organization for me. I anxiously waited to hear from Susan and when I received the email saying that I had been offered the intern position, I was absolutely ecstatic!
Fast-forward to fall 2022, I began the practicum portion of my internship at ARTZ. Susan told me that she wanted this experience to be mutually beneficial to both myself, and the organization. Together we came up with what my role at ARTZ was going to look like based on my own interests. Social media has always been an interest of mine, and I also knew that having a social media presence could help bring in more participants to ARTZ programs, as well as spread awareness and education about dementia and the arts. I began to create posts for the ARTZ Instagram account to promote upcoming events. Along with creating these posts, I also read a lot of research about dementia and the arts to learn more about ARTZ and the community that the organization serves. I even did some of my own research finding interesting articles and podcasts which I was later able to share on ARTZ blog.
In my time at ARTZ, I was able to attend some of their programs and observe the magic of the arts in action. Listening to participants talk about different pieces of artwork was truly fascinating. Although we were all looking at the same artwork, everyone had different interpretations of the meaning behind each piece. Along with everyone sharing their interpretations, something that makes these programs really special is the joy and laughter that was shared between the participants and facilitators. Participants, whether they are ARTZ veterans or newcomers, all engaged with one another and the artwork. As someone who was observing, I often forgot that they were living with dementia. This just goes to show the true power of art, music, and community.
Although my time has come to an end, the things I’ve learned and memories I’ve made will be cherished and carried with me throughout my life. I didn’t think it was possible to have even more of an appreciation and adoration for the arts than I already did, but ARTZ Philadelphia has made that possible. ARTZ is run by people who are selfless, caring, and kind, and those are qualities that I will strive to embody in my everyday life. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow at ARTZ, and I will miss all of the people who made this past year so special.