Birmingham nonprofit organization connects Alzheimer's, dementia patients with art

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center connecting people with visual arts

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (WDIV)
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (WDIV)

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. – This week's Your Neighborhood segment takes us to Birmingham. If you love art, you'll want to stop by the art center to view the exhibit or take classes. The nonprofit has had a profound effect on Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

"It gives me a sense of calm," painter Patty Eisenbraun said. "It gives me that satisfaction of being creative."

Eisenbraun has become known for her signature art pieces. She's an art student at the Birmingham Bloomfield Arts Center.

"It gives me a balance that I find I need a lot of times," she said.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center was founded in 1957. Its mission is to connect people of all ages and abilities with visual arts education, exhibition and other creative experiences.

"It's an opportunity to be with like-minded people here, .an opportunity to think about yourself and work on something individually, said Annie Vangelderen, the art center president and CEO.

Vangelderen said the center is for people of all ages. Visitors can come in and see the gallery inside the nonprofit free of charge. Classes range in price.

"The instructors are wonderful, and they take your hand, and they give you everything you need to know for each class," Vangelderen said.

In the past year, the BBAC had almost 2,000 children and adults taking classes and nearly 1,500 people walking through the exhibits. Most fulfilling is the effect the classes have on patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. Vangelderen said she has witnessed it firsthand.

"Talking to someone who has Alzheimer's and were conducting and art looking component and having them say their first words when they've been nonverbal for three months and all of a sudden you ask them that question like what you see on this painting, and they speak," Vangelderen said. "So those days give me chills, and we run into those over and over again."

Helping people experience art is what the art center is all about. There are even workshops, special events, after-school programs and more. For Eisenbraun, it's been life-changing.

"It makes you feel proud!" she said. "I think as you grow as an artist it gives you a confidence that you really never felt before."

You can become a member of the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Click here for more information.

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