She created a series of art cards containing photographs of paintings she created herself. Van Houten began sharing those art cards with patients of all illnesses, but saw dramatic results particularly with those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“They began to see things they had never seen before,” Van Houten said in describing the reactions that patients with Alzheimer’s have had to her art. “They become lively and animated; they talk to their families.”
Van Houten is the Program Manager of the Advocacy Art Project, sponsored by UCP. She started the charitable program in late 2010. Van Houten’s passion for life has been key in helping others find meaning in their own lives. Through the Advocacy Art Project, Van Houten hopes to lift the spirits, emotions, and general well-being of patients of all ailments, particularly those with Alzheimer’s, by sharing her art therapy cards. Her project’s mission is to distribute these cards to those in need.
Out of the many illnesses Van Houten’s therapy art cards have came into contact with, those with Alzheimer’s have displayed the greatest reaction. “When they look at my paintings, the right side of their brain becomes active and the vibrant colors help stimulate it. It’s a very magical thing,” said Van Houten. She believes her art aides in sparking whatever is left in the minds of those affected by the disease. “People are a lot more reachable than we think in that condition.”
The images displayed on the therapy art cards are known as “discovery art.” The discovery art are of images that Van Houten has painted herself reduced to a postcard size fine-art print. Discovery art is much like abstract art, as the images are not deliberately painted; instead they are up to the viewer’s imagination to interpret.
More than 300 sets of her art cards are currently being used in various memory care facilities, institutions, and even homes of individuals located in the US., as well as countries such as Israel, Spain, Italy, China, Thailand, Canada, England, Australia.
As the daughter of a woman who was not only an artist herself, but who also had Alzheimer’s, it’s no surprise that Van Houten would add art therapy to her list of many achievements. Van Houten is an entrepreneur with 33 years of experience in the field of career and life coaching.
Van Houten is currently working on placing her discovery art in a PowerPoint presentation format that will be placed on USB flash drives. This method will make it easier to distribute, and a convenient tool for therapists to use in larger group settings.
Advocacy Art Project is sponsored by UCP, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor of active charitable programs. Through UCP, Van Houten is able to focus solely on her program’s charitable mission, rather than on the administrative burdens that an independent nonprofit can have. All donations to Advocacy Art Project are tax-deductible. For more information about Advocacy Art Project, please visit their website at http://www.DiscoveryArt.Info.
UCP's mission is to empower people to help others by fiscally sponsoring targeted charitable programs that effect positive change through charitable, educational, scientific, or religious actions worldwide. UCP programs vary in size, budget and scope, but all share the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. For more information about UCP and fiscal sponsorship, please visit http://www.UnitedCharitablePrograms.org.