The Kangaroo Residency Program
Training artists how to joyfully connect with people living with Alzheimer's through art, education, personal expression, and hands-on-experiences.
What's in a Name? The Story.
In 2013, after a year of unsuccessfully searching for a job in the post-recession climate, I was close to giving up. My friends and I gathered at cafes, sharing one sandwich and one cup of coffee while we sullenly applied for jobs.
Desperate to put my graduate degree in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts to work, I decided to offer art lessons to a woman living with Alzheimer’s, for whom I had worked throughout undergrad. While searching for inspiration, I stumbled upon the I’m Still Here Foundation, one of the leading organizations in the world developing nonpharmaceutical interventions for people with dementia. Based in the Boston area, they create cultural resources and offer Meet Me at the Museum tours for people living with memory loss. I enthusiastically wrote to them asking for a job.
A few months later, I received a call from Sean Caulfield, the mastermind behind Meet Me at the Museum. Naturally, I was ecstatic when he invited me for an interview and jumped out of my skin when he offered me a job researching the effectiveness of plays and books written for people living with memory loss and leading museum tours.
Sean quickly became more than a boss. He was an outstanding mentor and a dear friend. I was saddened to learn that Sean suddenly passed away from meningitis on May 23, 2019 at the age of 47.
Sean delighted in the little things in life; playful anecdotes, accents, foreign post marks, and a well-crafted story. He was wickedly funny, musical, smart, and imaginative. Those of us who were lucky enough to know him enjoyed his flights of whimsy and hilarity—if you were quick enough to keep up, that is.
Though his life was cut short, his legacy spreads far and wide. His fingerprints are all over programs for people living with dementia at distinguished museums like MoMA and the Louvre, as well as dozens of like-minded organizations around the world—including the Memory Maker Project.
Sean was beyond humble about his accomplishments. He always said, “I don’t own the right to do programs for people with Alzheimer’s”—he just hoped that people would do it the “right way”—deeply engaging participants with a genuine connection.
Six years ago, he took a chance on me, ignited my passion for art and memory loss, and taught me how to do it the “right way.” Now it’s time to pass the baton.
To honor Sean, the Memory Maker Project will offer a four-month, hands-on Artist-In-Residence program, teaching artists how to work with people living with memory loss while creating a body of work that reflects their experiences.
Since Sean did not like his name in lights, the program will be called the Kangaroo Residency, inspired by his band’s name. I hope that this is the beginning of a great ripple, creating an army of artists equipped to spread Sean’s legacy far and wide.
We seek support from generous people like you to make this possible. All funds raised toward our goal will be used toward the 2019-2020 Residency program. Any funds raised beyond our goal will support future Residencies and running our great programs.
Thank you for helping to keep Sean's legacy alive.
Christina Muscatello, Ed.M.
Co-Founder & Director
The Memory Maker Project
About the Residency.
The Residency will provide the following benefits:
- Training about Montessori and arts-based approaches to programming for people living with memory loss.
- Four months of hand-on experience facilitating art-based programs for people living with memory loss in the Southern Tier.
- Studio space with the expectation of creating work that reflects their experiences in the field.
- Housing, living and supply stipends.
- Monthly critiques by working artists.
- A final exhibition showcasing the artist's work along side the work of the Memory Maker Project's participants.
The Memory Maker Project is proud to be a project of the Center for Transformative Action, which is an affiliate of Cornell University and a registered 501(c)3.
Learn more at memorymakerproject.org
Please note: one of the only images I have of Sean is that goofy one of us at a fundraiser. The other photos were lovingly borrowed from the internet.