A Continuum

Illuminating the 15-year journey of my mother's battle with Alzheimer's

After manufacturing architectural glass art since 2000, I was chosen to participate in a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School in 2015, a year after my mom's death. It was at this residency that I decided to address this journey with her through art. It would not be glass; rather, it would be a Navajo-style weaving.
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Detail of Navajo-technique Weaving

The horizontal weft is alternating rows of LED-lit fiber optic strands and satin ribbon dyed on a gray scale. The weaving is 5' x 3' and installed is 10' x 4'.

LED-lit fiber optic strands

At end-of-life the fiber optic strands darken in color and random strands emerge from slits in the weaving illustrating the final unraveling of the disease condition.

For caregivers worldwide . . . creating a global conversation for strength and comfort.

About Candace Pratt

Candace Pratt

The residency at Pilchuck Glass School in 2015 changed my life and my interaction with materials. As I explored how to illustrate my mother's disease through art, a world of unexplored elements presented itself.

As an artist, I visualize art forms with the intention of sparking dialogue. My weaving will hopefully engage individuals globally to speak of Alzheimer's disease.

Talking to as many people as possible during these years as a caregiver was survival for me. It helped me respond, anticipate, prepare and cope.

I created the weaving to begin a conversation with caregivers worldwide, that they might find strength and guidance during their journey. My dream is for this art to advance a global exchange of ideas, research, and care management - letting light shine on this subject.

Read the story behind the art. Scroll Down

Awards & Events:

  • World Tapestry Now 2018 juried show awardee
  • Illuminating Engineering Society Annual Conference, Welcoming speaker, 2017
  • 2017 McGinty Conference Presentor - 'The Art of Caregiving'

Alzheimer's - A Continuum, The Story and Inspiration

Damascus Fiber Arts School, built in 1874 on the Oregon Trail, Portland, OR

My mom was a Navajo-style weaver. For decades she wove at the Damascus Fiber Arts School built in 1874 on the Oregon Trail outside Portland. She battled Alzheimer's for 15 years until her death in 2014. She continued to weave long after she could no longer communicate verbally.

Since 2000 I have manufactured architectural glass. I was chosen to participate in a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School a year after her death. During that residency I decided to address this journey with my mom through artwork. It would be a Navajo-style weaving.

Slowly over the coming months the features of the weaving began to appear. The warp is the vertical material held in tension on the upright loom. It is the hidden strength of a weaving. Instead of the traditionally used wool for the warp, I knew I would use stainless steel cable. The coldness of the steel and the disease were eerily intertwined.

Audrey Moore (Rt), director of the Damascus Fiber Arts School, and Candace Pratt with warped-frame ready to weave.

The weft is the horizontal material passing in front of and behind the warp. I wanted the weft to represent the disease that slowly took the light from her vibrant life. Somehow I knew I had to illuminate the weaving.

The weft's design evolved into a combination of 2000 lit fiber optic strands and 1000 yards of satin ribbon that I dyed as a gray scale to illustrate the progression of the disease.

I wanted the weaving to span her life, from the purity of the beginning to the inevitable darkness. At the end of life, slits with random fiber optic strands reveal the final unraveling.

A high tension floor-to-ceiling installation apparatus represents the strain and stress on all impacted by Alzheimer's.

I can think of no word that better describes my journey with mom's disease than continuum. With each passing day, the changes seemed imperceptible, yet over the years the changes were on a cosmic scale. It is my hope that this art weaves a story that resonates with thousands of caregiving families who have been or will be walking a similar path.

Continuum:  With each passing day the changes seemed imperceptible, yet over her 15-year struggle with Alzheimer's, the changes were on a cosmic scale.

Photography by Brian McLernon Photography.