Invited Talks

I give around 15 talks a year.

The vita will give you the full list. 
But on this page, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of why I pick the invitations I do,
and what my experiences are like.

In my talks, I try to present a balance of the latest social science research on arts/well-being, 
with inspiring stories from my own projects and the incredible work of others in the field. 
Because data and inspiration are both part of why the arts work.

  • Keynote for the Wisconsin State Alzheimer's Conference (May 2017).
    This was no ordinary keynote - I billed it as a "performance/installation", which of course confused many folks. I coordinated a team of artists (dancers, choreographers, print-makers, animators) to create an interactive performance inspired by the stories we gathered from nursing homes across the state of Wisconsin. The elders read them aloud and choreographed the stories. Print-maker Jessica Mueninck-Ganger worked with her student Madison Dawne to create a gorgeous book of prints inspired by the stories that served as our "set." Dancers elaborated on the elders' choreography, and Adam Wertel created five animations of the stories. I gave a brief overview of the field (just what can meaningful art-making do to care and quality of life?) and then turned it over to the dancers who performed three stories (inviting audience participation karaoke-style) and then invited the nearly 1,000 people present to create their own choreography to a final story. I truly could not believe we could make this work - an enormous conference room was alive in giddy laughter. People were all in. It was transformative for us all.

    We have since recreated this little miracle of a presentation at the Imagining America Conference at UC-Davis (October 2017), and will do it again at the Eden Conference in May 2018 in Atlanta. Learn more here.

  • Keynote for the Arts and Dementia Research Conference, Royal Society for Public Health (March 2017). So first of all, let's take note that the Royal Society for Public Health is nurturing research in the arts and dementia. And let's figure out how to get the American Public Health Association to do the same! It was so great to share my work with care systems and to brainstorm with folks from so many different countries that are pushing the boundaries of care (in good ways).

  • Keynote for the National Arts Council of Singapore's 2015 Arts in Eldercare Symposium (Sept 2015). This was a thrilling chance to look at another country's systems of arts and of elder care and to puzzle through with them how the two systems might be better integrated and supportive. I ran three 4-hour workshops, met with aging services folks, did 2 interviews, and gave the keynote. Exhausting and fascinating.

  • Keynote and workshop for the Atlanta Regional Commission (June 2015) at the gorgeous Egyptian Hall at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. It's so inspiring when a region is eager to integrate their arts and culture programming with their aging services. This was a truly blended audience with lots of cross-talk and idea generation going on. Lots of potential Atlanta!

  • Plenary session at the National Nursing Ethics Conference (March 2015) in Los Angeles, CA.
    I love presenting outside my field. I learned so much about how the arts might collaborate and be integrated into nursing care, particularly hospice care.

  • Workshop presentation at ArtSage in MN "Go Beyond Your Expertise." (November 2014) Sharing stories of TimeSlips, Penelope, and Islands ofMilwaukee, my goal here is to encourage thesearts and aging practitioners to dream of a common goal much larger than any of them could accomplish alone. There is an ocean of need - collaborate, don't compete, to meet it.

  • Presentation and Workshops at the UW Bothell Chancellor's Innovation Forum (February 2013). I will make a brief presentation on the radical potential of improvisation in care settings, show the new Penelope documentary, and do a 3 hour workshop on creative engagement!

  • Presentation on TimeSlips: Practice and Research. A special meeting of Grantmakers In Health. Washington DC. (Spring, 2013). This is a great opportunity to describe the power of creative storytelling to a cross-sector audience.

  • A public workshop on research gaps and opportunities for exploring the relationship of the arts to health and well-being for older adults. Hosted by the National Academies of Science, National Committee on Statistics, at request of a Consortium of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institutes’ of Health's Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Washington DC. (September 2012) They commissioned me to write/present a paper on the benefits of arts-based interventions in dementia in comparison with non-arts interventions and pharmacological interventions. So I quickly asked Dr. Kate DeMedeiros to work with me – this will be an incredible opportunity and I hope to bring a student with me.

  • Presentation on Creativity, Aging, and Community. Keele University, England (July 2012)
    I did 4 presentations at Keele in 5 days – they officially brought me over for this one, a workshop with an ongoing study group exploring Creativity and the New Old.

  • Steven Foster Memorial Lecture, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (May 2012) I always love presenting in a public health context. And this was a fantastic venue and audience.

  • Keynote Presentation on Penelope Project: Creating the New Old Conference. Dublin, Ireland (May 2012). Every May, Ireland holds the Bealtaine Festival, celebrating creativity as we age. Keynote presenters included me, Liz Lerman, and Susan Perlstein. I learned a ton and aim to create our own Bealtaine here in Milwaukee in May.

  • Keynote Presentation: “Creative Engagement and the Cultural Cure for DementiaJackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto (March 2012) What an incredible treat to be invited just to talk about my book with a group of really smart faculty/students who had all read it. That just doesn’t happen often…

  • Keynote Presentation: “Weaving Penelope: a story of devising in the American long term care system.” The Inaugural Conference of the European Network in Aging Studies, “Theorizing Age, Challenging the Disciplines.” University of Maastricht, Netherlands (October 2011) This was the first time I presented on the Penelope Project and it was very emotional for me and for the room – I looked around at one point and there were a handful of people sobbing. Not your usual academic talk… Elinor Fuchs was also at the conference – she and I provided feedback at a pre-conference for a group of Dutch scholars writing about dementia and the arts.

  • Keynote Presentation: “Storytelling 2.0: bringing stories home.” National Adult Day Services Association national meeting. Milwaukee, WI (September 2011)
    This was the official launch of the new TimeSlips storytelling site. I’m lucky to have a great relationship with NADSA that helps spread the good news of the arts in long term care.

  • Panel Discussion: “Imagination and the Changing Mind. Museum of Modern Art, New York City (March 2011) I was on the panel with Paola Antonelli (design curator at MOMA), author David Shenk, and Nobel winner Eric Kandel. It was sold out. I was nervous and can’t really tell you how it went, but reliable sources tell me I held my own.

  • Lecture and Workshop: TimeSlips and improvisational storytelling in long term care. University of Zurich, SWITZERLAND (July 2010) U of Z now has a class that regularly uses TimeSlips as service-learning.

  • Keynote: “Intergenerational Connections through the Arts.” University of Graz AUSTRIA, Ausseer Gespraeche Conference in Bad Aussee, AUSTRIA (July 2010) This was amazing – I was the only English-speaking keynote – with translation AFTER my talk – I hope they understood me!

  • Public Lecture and Workshop: "The Culture Cure for Dementia." Sponsored by the City of Florence and the University of Florence, Italy (July 2010). I never dreamed I would lecture in the Palazzo del Vecchio. Two years later, there are multiple care centers and museums collaborating on creative engagement with families with dementia. Enormously rewarding. They have invited me back, but it’s over Thanksgiving…

  • Lecture/Think Tank: “International Models of Creative Engagement in Dementia Care.” Centro de Referencia Estatal de Atencion a Personans con Enfermadad de Alzheimers y otras Dementicas. Madrid and Salamanca, SPAIN (May 2010) The government of Spain decided it wanted to be a leader in non-pharmacological treatments for people with dementia. So they organized a series of Think Tanks – on creativity, on measurement, on environment etc. I was incredibly fortunate to participate in the first workshop on creativity, and met really outstanding people from all over the world.

  • Keynote: “The Cultural Cure for Dementia.” The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Conference, San Diego, CA (October 2010) This was another great group of people – all concerned with ethics and medical humanities. I ended up writing the first draft of Finding Penelope in the hotel room during my stay – so it was especially magical for me.

Workshops, Institutes, Think Tanks and other Convenings

Because I'm in between fields, I find I have a special ability to bring people together.  
Since I came to UWM in 2003, I've coordinated and facilitated many events
that don't quite fit in the usual descriptions of academic work.  Here are a few...

  1. Organized, facilitated, and taught in CREATE/CHANGE: Transforming Elder Care Through Creative Engagement. A summer institute held on UWM’s campus June 24-28, 2012, and again in June 2014. We are looking at 2016!

  2. Organized and Facilitated: The Arts and Humanities in Community Health: an interactive workshop. UWM (March 2011) Featuring the work of playwright Robbie McCauley, psychologist Susan McFadden, UWM scholars Raoul Deal and Nicholas Lambert, and theatre scholar Elinor Fuchs. Held in partnership with Imagining America.

  3. Curated: Film Series: Gerontological Society of America, November 2010 (3 short films)

  4. Organized: Open Meeting, Humanities and Arts Committee of GSA, November 2010, featuring Nick Spitzer of American Routes and Little Freddie King.

  5. Organized: Pre-conference Intensive, GSA, November 2010, Using Digital Media in Aging Research.

  6. Produced: Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time, a concert by David Greenberger and the Paul Cebar Stage Ensemble. Pabst Theater, Milwaukee (May 2009)

  7. Organized and Facilitated: Next Steps Think Tank, Transforming Activities in Long Term Care. UWM (May 2009)

  8. Organized and Facilitated: campus lecture/visit by site-specific theater artist Gulgun Kayim, (Feb 2009)

  9. Organized and Facilitated: campus residency of playwright Jason Grote (Sept/Oct 2008)

  10. Organized and Facilitated: Next Steps Think Tank, Getting Innovation into Practice in Family Caregiving. UWM (September 2008)

  11. Organized: Residency and lecture/exhibit by photographer Wing Young Huie. UWM (February 2007)

  12. Organized and Facilitated: Think Tank on Creativity and Dementia: Moving forward in research. With 20 nationally recognized researchers, artists, and care providers. Milwaukee (June 2006)

  13. Co-Organizer: Symposium onIn/dependence: Aging, Disability, and Welfare. With the Center for 21st Century Studies, UWM, Milwaukee, WI (April 2006). Featuring: Eva Feder Kittay, Sanford Schram, Atwood Gaines, and Margaret Gullette.