IMPACT, an interactive art piece, demonstrates relationship between shattered objects and memories

Artist Sara Dalla Guarda is pictured here with IMPACT, an interactive art installation she created to demonstrate the relationship between shattered objects and memories.

OMNI co-sponsored IMPACT’s premiere at the 2019 OLTCA/ORCA convention and trade show. Artist Sara Dalla Guarda explains why she created it

It was last November when Sara Dalla Guarda’s father accidentally broke a ceramic mug that belonged to her grandmother. That mug meant a lot to Sara.

“When I was a kid, I used to walk to my grandma’s house every day after school and have milk and cookies in that mug,” Sara, a Toronto-based artist, recalls in an interview with The OMNIway. “It was a beautiful ceramic mug with a hand-painted cherry blossom tree. I’ll never forget it.”

Sara says she was “hysterical.” The mug held a lot of fond memories. Sara was not upset because her dad broke the mug; she was upset because she associated it with memories she shared with her grandmother before her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

But from that misfortune came inspiration.

“After that experience, I was curious as to why people tend to associate memory with inanimate objects,” Sara says. “Not only that, but I also wanted to force people to reflect on what they believe happens to those memories once the physical object associated with it is destroyed.”

Sara’s creative instincts jumped into action. She came up with an idea to use art to illustrate how people connect memories with objects. The result is IMPACT, a piece of interactive art.

IMPACT is a vending machine filled with fragile items such as teacups, plates and figurines, rather than the usual chocolate bars or potato chips.

People put 50 cents into the machine and choose an item, which will fall from its place behind the coil dispenser and shatter as it hits the delivery tray.

There is a direct correlation between watching the items shatter and Alzheimer’s and dementia, Sara says. Once a person becomes affected by these conditions, their family and friends continue to hold on to their memories of the person before their diagnosis, much like they may hold on to memories connected with a shattered cup or plate.

IMPACT, Sara says, is meant to prompt thoughts and discussion about Alzheimer’s and dementia, something that often isn’t easy.

Before creating IMPACT, Sara launched a GoFundMe page to help with its costs. After sharing her idea on Facebook, donations to fund the project poured in. One of the people who learned about the project was Chris Weber, OMNI Health Care’s operations manager of nutrition and food service.

Chris sent Sara a message and offered to donate to her project. He also facilitated a co-sponsorship from OMNI and helped Sara get a chance to display IMPACT during the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) and Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) annual convention and trade show in April.

OMNI helped sponsor the piece, and another long-term care provider, Schlegel Villages, sponsored the space at the event.

Chris says what he liked best about IMPACT was that it was an opportunity to support both the art community and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, conditions affecting many people living in long-term care homes.

“It struck me right away as a very unique idea,” Chris says. “I thought it was interesting how Sara is using art to open the discussion around memory, sentimentality and Alzheimer’s. I thought it was the perfect fit for the environment that we work it.”

Sara says the OLTCA/ORCA conference was “the perfect place to premiere” IMPACT.

“Bringing my piece to the OLTCA seemed like a no-brainer to me – a piece about Alzheimer’s and dementia to be displayed at a conference with top long-term care executives,” she says.

You can visit Sara’s website to learn more about IMPACT.

– More to come

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