My Master's thesis Louise Snowball, Room #237, is an interactive, multi-sensory installation that draws upon my personal experiences of observing my mother’s decline from dementia. In 2012 my mother, Louise Snowball, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and subsequently admitted to a long-term care facility until her death. During this time, I documented my mother’s experiences through photography to express the emotional impact it had on me. Using auto-ethnographic and research creation methodologies, I began to explore how a three-dimensional practicecould build upon this work. My research into The Medical Gaze (Foucault) discusses how the gaze can position the viewer within the installation space. The theory of The Abject (Kristeva) is used to describe how medical environments can cause abjection, and writing on Embodiment (Merleau-Ponty) and research into interactivity in game design and mechanics (Clement) will illustrate how a viewer’s physical interaction with an installation space has the potential to unlock new knowledge.
On April 11th, 2019, I hosted my thesis exhibition opening along with my sponsors, Scott Russell, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto and Sue Graham-Nutter, CEO of the Rekai Centres. The event took place at 100 McCaul, in the “Great Hall” space on the 2nd floor, where I had constructed a large installation room. During the exhibition, a panel had been arranged to discuss issues surrounding dementia and the state of long-term care. On this panel were Dr. Kathy McGilton, senior scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Mary Connell, registered nurse and The Butterfly Project manager at Peel’s Malton Village, myself, and Sue Graham-Nutter. Collectively, we spoke about our concerns for people with dementia residing within long-term care facilities and addressed the ways in which space, people, and relationships can come together to create compassionate, person-centered care.