The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Creating an Art Exhibition Through Shared Experiences of Grief: Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and University Students


September 12, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.

This talk is part of the 2019 Fall Museum Lecture Series, generously supported by the Sam and Belle S. Deutsch Endowment.

Presented by ArtWorks Director Yumi Shirai, PhD and Carissa DiCindio, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art and Visual Culture Education, this talk focuses on how museums have been used as spaces for public healing for people with various backgrounds. As an example, the presenters will share the process of developing the art exhibition Crafting My Story: Experiences of Loss, Grief and Spiritual Lifefeaturing works by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Shirai and DiCindio will discuss how the expressive arts played a critical role in expanding modes of communication for individuals with IDD working through the bereavement process, and how art studio staff and university students collaborated to transform these individuals’ personal stories into a public art exhibition. They will also examine the role of a museum hosting an art exhibition around a shared life experience within the context of the broader community and consider ways that art venues can bring new voices into their programming.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Shirai is an assistant professor at the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities within the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Arizona. Her research and outreach program focuses on promoting quality of life among individuals with disabilities through a lifespan perspective. Specifically, her interests are integrating creativity into support and educational programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as well as  working with their caregivers on late-life transitions.

Dr. DiCindio is Assistant Professor of Art and Visual Culture Education at the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on dialogue, peer learning and working with university audiences in art museums. Prior to this position, she was the Curator of Education at the Georgia Museum of Art, where she worked for 14 years. She currently serves on the editorial board of Art Education.