Dana Walrath, PhD, MFA

Atlantic Fellow at GBHI

Professional Profile
Home Country: USA
Field of Employment: Writer, artist, anthropologist
Social Media: Twitter: @danawalrath, Instagram: danawalrath

Dana Walrath’s graphic memoir Aliceheimers (2016), about her mother and dementia, focuses on the opportunities for healing, laughter, and insight that can be found in the midst of this sickness.

Dana believes that the stigma and fear surrounding dementia isolates people and limits the opportunities for healing.

As a memoirist who creates comics and other forms of art, I use storytelling to contribute to GBHI’s mission of reducing the scale and impact of dementia. Stories lessen fear and stigma by making those living with dementia visible. Stories show the possibilities for light, laughter and healing that can arise through this disease. By restoring the humanity of those living with dementia, stories open the door for a nuanced discourse on quality of life, social justice, and equity as the prevalence of this disease increases globally. As an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at GBHI I will be working on a second graphic memoir focusing on end stages of dementia and dementia across cultures. My life also includes various elements of dementia prevention: time outside in nature, in the community, with family and friends, bicycling, with music, dancing, tai chi, yoga, meditation, gardening, and farm to table foods.

Bio: Dana Walrath has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in visual arts and biology from Barnard College, Columbia University. After years of using stories and art to teach medical humanities at University of Vermont’s College of Medicine, she now practices a border-crossing blend of creative writing, anthropology, and art that has brought her to Armenia as a Fulbright Scholar and to Japan as a resident artist.