William Utermohlen

Descent Into Alzheimer’s: William Utermohlen

Alzheimer’s is a terrifying disease. Getting the diagnosis that you will slowly begin to lose everything that makes you who you are can be devastating. How do you keep focused? What would your first instinct be? To write things down? To record the things you remember in hopes that it will trigger something later when you can’t? How do you hold on to the things you know will eventually be lost to you? When William Utermohlen was diagnosed in 1995, he did what came naturally to him as an artist. He began a series of self-portraits. For a period of eight years he worked painstakingly to complete each one, knowing as time went on his skills were diminishing. The progression of the portraits not only show his declining artistic skills, but also the struggle he was experiencing emotionally. As the paintings grow more abstract and the details disappear, there is an increase to the overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair. Sadly, Utermohlen died as a result of Alzheimer’s in March 2007, but his work has been exhibited in several cities and is being used by psychologists understand the effects of the disease. There is also a documentary about his life and art in production, titled, Telling It Like It Is.

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[via Visual News]

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