Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass

For the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2011, I drew and wrote about caring for my mother, Alice, through Alzheimer’s Disease. You can see the sketchbook on their site: . Because there is no place for dialogue with people outside of the project on that site, I’ve entered the Land of Blog.  I’ll be writing about each of the images individually in the weeks to come. For now, here’s the sketchbook in its entirety.   I used pencil and cut text (from Alice in Wonderland) to make the images. Some pages include cut paper and colored pencil too.



Disappearing Alice


None is Hard to Draw


Missing Parts



Alice Ungrounded




Apples are Better




Fairy Pirates


New Friends


Sublimerierung und Selbstverachtung




Light, Years, Later




Because You Are My Mother


Falling Slowly


The Lobster Quadrille


Through the Looking Glass 


Alice’s Wonderland


Before Wonderland: Armenian School, NYC, Circa 1944


Drink Me


Curioser and Curioser


A Mad Tea Party


I’m Opening Up Like the Largest Telescope That Ever Was


Who Are You?

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17 Responses to Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass

  1. Magnificent, Dana! Each picture brings the viewer to a deeper understanding. Poignant and beautiful. Kudos!!

  2. Sonia Rae says:

    Fantastic! You’ve jumped right on it. I love the site.

  3. Kathi Appelt says:

    Dana–this is just amazing and wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this.


  4. danawalrath says:

    Thanks so much for your kind words, Kathi, Sonia and Sarah. More blog posts on the way!

  5. maureen hourihan says:

    Dana, you made me laugh and cry all over again remembering, remembering. This is beautiful work, important work. We must remember and write and draw for those who can’t. Love you and sending you all my best…Maureen

  6. I just found this thanks to Kathi and I’m absolutely bowled over. Wonderful work. So touching. Utterly original and rich. Thank you.

  7. Just amazing words and sketches… a wonderful way for all to process such a complex experience. I want to meet alice !

  8. Maxwell Walrath says:

    It’s so nice to hear about her princess image!

  9. Dana, I’ve looked and looked again at your Alzheimer’s series. I don’t know any series of images about the kind of “disappearance” that happens with this disease that is as strong, original and affecting as your sketchbook. And I’ve looked at lots of art about this subject and made a series of images myself from the days when my mother was similarly ill- with Alzheimers.

    As artwork, these sketches are teaching me something about sequences and narrative pictures. They are enormously instructive on many levels. Thank you.

    • danawalrath says:

      Thank you Elly, both for taking so much time with these images and for your kind words. It is interesting that images (of all things) can capture disappearance, that is if they are in a series. I am looking forward to seeing your work from the days of your mother’s life with Alzheimer’s. I can imagine thier power.
      with every best wish,

  10. Jean Lawhorn says:

    It’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Mick Byers says:

    your artwork and the power of your words are inspiring, to say the least. I supervise a special care unit for folks with alzheimer disease. One of the special moments we have is a Memory cafe, where we use the arts, food and friendship to give our friends some time to feel normal- even if it’s just for a short while. I would love for you to join us for one. If you’re interested, my email address is . I can give you more information

    Thanks again for using the arts to show the journey this awful disease puts families on.

    • danawalrath says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words about Aliceheimer’s and the work that you do for families living with this. I’ve just been in Beijing speaking about my work which keeps on growing. There are 9 million people in China with dementia searching for new approaches. Thanks too for your kind invitation to see your work. I will follow up!

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