Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Art of Healing Month of Events Uses Creation as Curative Tool

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Art of Healing Month of Events Uses Creation as Curative Tool

Article excerpt

At the end of a long, narrow corridor hangs a painting that is

the last image a cancer patient sees before radiation therapy.

That image is of a single palm tree, a reminder of soft

breezes, yes, but also a symbol of survival.

Artist Jim Draper hopes his palm tree paintings, which hang in

several medical facilities, will provide a small measure of

healing to people in pain.

"A palm tree is a very strong, solitary image," Draper said.

"In a storm, they can take a lot of abuse, but they're

resilient. We can tell ourselves that soon the storm will be

over and we'll be back standing in the sun."

Draper is just one of many Jacksonville-based artists who will

participate in a monthlong series of talks, workshops and

exhibitions -- not to mention a canoe trip -- exploring how art

can be used in physical and spiritual healing processes.

The June events are presented by Pedestrian, a Gallery of

Contemporary Art, a year-old gallery in Jacksonville's Five

Points area.

"When we looked at the body of work from artists we represent,

we realized that many of them were already doing work that

focused on healing," gallery owner Steve Williams said.

Williams thinks the approach of the millennium has made many

people think more deeply about spiritual questions, but he

points out that art has always had a spiritual component, from

the earliest cave paintings on.

"During the daily work of creating, artists are called on to

tap into and share their spirituality. And we want the gallery

to be part of that mission of sharing and inspiring," Williams

said.

The gallery's events approach the art and healing connection

from two angles, Williams said.

One is as an artistic product, such as Draper's palms, meant to

provide a measure of healing for those who see and experience

it.

But the second is as a process, art that hopes to heal by the

act of creating it.

Aprille Best Glover, for example, is a Jacksonville-based

sculptor with HIV who gives the credit for her good health to

the therapeutic energy of creating art. She'll lead a discussion

and workshop on art and healing June 27.

Nancy Wilson is another artist for whom the process is the most

important aspect. During her Saturday workshop, Wilson will lead

participants to create healing shrines.

And, no, you don't have to be an artist to take the workshop.

"The non-artists are freer," Wilson said. "They're usually the

people the artists learn the most from."

Wilson began creating her shrines after her mother's death

about eight years ago.

"When I got to the funeral home to pick out an urn for her

ashes, I said, `I hate that; it's ugly; it's not special

enough,' " Wilson said.

So she created a work of art to enshrine the ashes and to

express her grief over her mother's death. …

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