January 14, 2015

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. While Alzheimer’s effects are overwhelming, artist Lisa Hicks of Jonesboro uses the disease as a source of inspiration.

This inspiration has resulted in a complete sequence of paintings titled Stolen Memories that will be displayed in the Southeastern Illinois College Art Gallery.

Stolen Memories is a series of 28 paintings that represent the devastating dementia effects of Alzheimer’s,” said Hicks. “This series reflects how knowledge and memories that have been formed over a lifetime are viciously taken by the devastating disease, leaving the mind to be nothing but a black empty shell.”

Hicks portrays the crippling effects of Alzheimer’s by using a theme of black dominoes as a canvas. She then uses color to show the gradual changes of the development and declining stages of the mind.

“Depicting a theme of black dominoes as my canvas, I use contrasting elements of black and white with color to represent Alzheimer’s powerful destruction of the aging mind,” said Hicks. “I chose dominoes as my canvas because of the popularity over the years of this particular mind game. Dominoes can be a simple or complex game, just like the mind is simple in form at birth, yet ready to grow tremendously into great complexity.”

Alzheimer’s has had a large impact in Hicks life. After her paternal grandfather developed dementia and a paternal aunt developed Alzheimer’s, her maternal aunt Erie, who recently turned 100, began showing signs of the disease.

“Aunt Erie and my mother have played dominoes all of their lives,” said Hicks. “It is a game my aunt can still play. I used dominoes as my canvas because it is an old generation game that works the mind.”

While the devastating effects of the disease do hit so close to home for Hicks, she uses those strong emotions in hopes for a better future for those battling Alzheimer’s.

“I feel that keeping my work personal allows for the emotional feel necessary to enhance the meaning or purpose of my art,” said Hicks. “I also hope to insert an emotional desire in society for the development of cures for a better way of life.”

SIC will host an opening exhibit reception Jan. 23 from 6-8 p.m. in the art gallery of the George T. Dennis Visual & Performing Arts Center. The show will run through Feb. 28.

“Lisa Hick’s show Stolen Memories sends a powerful message about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease through form and color,” said Sara DeNeal, SIC Art Instructor. “When I first saw the series, I knew I had to bring it to SIC. So many people in our community have been touched in some way by this devastating illness that I knew others would be as moved as I was by viewing this series.”

The SIC Art Gallery is open Monday- Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For more information on the Stolen Memories series, or about the art gallery, contact DeNeal at 618-252-5400 ext. 2232 or at