Research

From 2016-2018, I collaborated with the Northwestern University Department of Communication on interdisciplinary research exploring technology in art therapy for older adults living with cognitive impairment. Our collaboration resulted in five papers, described below:

Making as Expression: Informing Design with People with Complex Communication Needs through Art Therapy
Amanda Lazar, Jessica L. Fueston, Caroline Edasis, Anne Marie Piper
Published April 2018 CHI Conference Paper

Abstract:
“There is a growing emphasis on designing with people with diverse health experiences rather than designing for them. Yet, collaborative design becomes difficult when working with individuals with health conditions (e.g., stroke, cancer, abuse, depression) that affect their ability or willingness to engage alongside researchers and verbally express themselves. The present paper analyzes how the clinical practice of art therapy engages these individuals in co-creative, visual expression of ideas, thoughts, and experiences. Drawing on interviews with 22 art therapists and over two years of field work in a clinical setting, we detail how art therapists view making as expression for people with complex communication needs. Under this view, we argue that art therapy practice can inspire collaborative design engagements by understanding materials as language, creating space for expression, and sustaining expressions in a broader context. We discuss practical and ethical implications for design work involving individuals with complex communication needs.”

A Critical Lens on Dementia and Design in HCI
Amanda Lazar, Caroline Edasis, Anne Marie Piper
Published May 2017, 2017 CHI Conference Paper

Abstract:
“Designing new technologies with and for individuals with dementia is a growing topic of interest within HCI. Yet, predominant societal views contribute to the positioning of individuals with dementia as deficient and declining, and treat technology as filling a gap left by impairment. We present the perspective of critical dementia as a way of reflecting on these views in the context of recent epistemological shifts in HCI. In addition to articulating how HCI can leverage the perspective of critical dementia, we present a case analysis of technology design in art therapy involving people with dementia aimed at challenging conventional narratives. This paper calls attention to and helps solidify an agenda for how the CHI community approaches dementia, design, and technology.”

See Publication

Supporting People with Dementia in Digital Social Sharing
Amanda Lazar, Caroline Edasis, Anne Marie Piper
Published May 2017, 2017 CHI Conference Paper

Abstract:
“Sharing online is an important way in which people across the lifespan express themselves, maintain relationships, and connect with others. Yet, people with dementia are often not supported in engaging to the full extent of their abilities, particularly in their interaction with online technology. This paper presents a design case study that examines what it means to design for agency in online sharing involving individuals with dementia. Our work is situated in the context of art therapy for adults with dementia. We present the design and exploration of Moments, a system that allows individuals to share through artwork by manipulating their physical environment. We discuss how designing for agency calls attention to the ways in which the material workspace, including the tools we introduce, and the surrounding social context participate in the creation of agency.”

See Publication

Designing for the Third Hand: Empowering Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment through Creating and Sharing
Amanda Lazar, Raymundo Cornejo, Caroline Edasis, Anne Marie Piper
Published June 2016, 2016 ACM Conference Paper

Abstract:
“Cognitive impairment is sometimes viewed as a deficit limiting an individual’s ability to participate fully in society. Art therapy, in contrast, is a context in which older adults with cognitive impairments (e.g., dementia, aphasia) are positioned as capable, competent, and engaged through the act of creating and sharing artwork. We draw on the concept of the “Third Hand,” a practice in art therapy in which the therapist attunes to and enables the desires of the client during interaction. We use this concept to understand how to empower creative work and sharing among older adults with cognitive impairments. We introduce an interactive frame prototype to explore new opportunities for sharing and supporting interaction between these older adults and their therapist. We conclude with a discussion of what designing for the Third Hand means to HCI, including how this metaphor provides a model of empathy and empowerment in design for this population.”

See Publication

Vulnerability, Sharing, and Privacy: Analyzing Art Therapy for Older Adults with Dementia
Raymundo Cornejo, Robin Brewer, Caroline Edasis, Anne Marie Piper
Published February 2016, 19th ACM Conference Paper

Abstract:
“Older adults are most often considered consumers of online information, but recent work highlights the importance of engaging older adults in content generation and online sharing. One context in which older adults generate and share content is art therapy for individuals with dementia. Our analysis draws on Altman’s notion of privacy and territorial regions to understand what sharing means for this vulnerable population. This theoretical framing reveals the ways in which privacy is cooperatively negotiated, which is in contrast to the individualistic view of existing sharing systems; how older adults derive benefits from sharing depending on interaction with their audience; and how sharing fluctuates between a focus on the process of therapy versus the product depending on privacy needs. Our analysis contributes an understanding of the complex nature of sharing for vulnerable populations and offers design considerations for systems that support this practice.”

In 2012 I undertook qualitative, arts-based research exploring art therapy and culture change in dementia care entitled, “Making Time for Culture Change: Art Therapy as Method for Cultivating Lived Time in Dementia Care.”  Read my thesis by clicking on the links below. No parts of this thesis may be reproduced in any form without my prior written permission.

Abstract and table of contents

Making Time for Culture Change

2013-03-06 17.23.23

2013-03-06 17.13.08