Tesseract was an intergenerational story-sharing project designed to find innovative ways of enhancing memory function in elderly people with dementia and to provide resiliency-building experiences for vulnerable girls aged 7-11 through the arts. The initial project, in Macon, Georgia, connected two groups of people from different parts of a deeply segregated community, using reciprocity and empathy to overcome shared experiences of isolation and voicelessness.as major obstacles to their well-being.
Tesseract began with face-to-face interviews with the elderly participants during which stories were collected relating to key moments in their lives.
I then worked with a team of collaborators to choose two stories from each interview to use in a series of creative workshops with the children, helping them to reflect on the stories, how they related to their own lives, and to devise a new fictional story, inspired by the two true stories from the elderly participants.
By designing a fluid relationship between truth and fiction as well as that of personal story and memory, the set of stories reflected a sense of shared ownership amongst the different sets of participants. The project culminated in a celebratory event where each participant was presented with a magazine the children helped compile featuring the original stories alongside the new stories the children created. The project was repeated in North Yorkshire, UK.