Creative Healing

By Tom Watson III By Tom Watson III

Art exhibit opens in Yellow Springs that expresses ‘The Art of Healing’

By Nicole Wroten

By Tom Watson III

To celebrate this weekend’s Friday Fling, the Yellow Springs Arts Council (YSAC) will present “The Art of Healing,” a one-month gallery show opening to kick off YSAC’s Experience Wellness Weekend, which will include five tracks of workshops and national Jungian workshop leader Dr. Sherry Wheaton as keynote speaker for a gala dinner on Saturday night. For Wellness Weekend tickets and information, go to www.yellow-springs-experience.org.

The opening reception will be held Friday evening at the YSAC Gallery. This particular exhibit will feature 30 artists and performers from throughout the region who have created art to honor the healing power of creative expression.
The exhibit’s curator Sarah Strong is an expert on the subject, having spent 20 years of her career as a teacher and mentor in the field of artful healing.
“I go and work with troubled youth, with people that are in hospitals and I work with victims of loss,” she said. What she really does is direct her students and patients in processing and coming up with a particular project that would lend well to the process of their healing.
“So if they have lost a parent, we would talk about that parent and we would make objects that would represent that parent, or look at their history,” she said. “We might pull out specific details and represent them in a painting.”
Strong believes that art can help the process of healing because it is taking something internal, like emotion and feelings, and making them external.
“You’re taking this feeling of anger, hurt, or pain, or suffering, or loss and you’re taking it outside of your body and you’re putting it into an external object,” she said. “You’re better able to process it because you’re making it an external situation. Then if you feel like you can present it, you can put it up for other people to see. As human beings we all suffer loss, we all suffer different things.”
Strong encourages artists sharing their work with others because that within itself is part of the healing process. “When you present it to others to witness, then it adds to the healing because you’re sharing it,” she said.
That is exactly what the artists showcased in the show are doing.
Of all the exhibitors, each will include a piece of their work, along with an accompanying story or description of the healing process they went through in creating their pieces.
One artist, Michael Fleishman from Yellow Springs will include his paintings in the show. “These paintings (“Wow’ and ‘Lips”) are the very first two pieces I did upon my return to the house after my heart attack …” he said. “Emotionally, I was looking for something immediate and fun (but low key). Physically, I had weight restrictions on my lifting. These two wee pieces were perfect — tiny but mighty for me — the advance guard of more paintings that have become a big part of my recuperation.”
Another artist, Tom Watson III from Kettering will display his artwork, described as screen print/mixed media, to show his creative approach to healing after he suffered a severe brain-stem stroke in 2005. “… I relearned to walk, write and other things we normally take for granted,” he said. “My current artwork focus is the “Stem/ReAssemblage” screen print and mixed media series on recycled materials, derived from the MRA medical scans of my left vertebral artery, where the stroke occurred in my brain.”
The writing elements are especially important to the show, Strong said. She encourages many of those looking for healing through art to first write about their experiences, and then incorporate those writings into their art.
“Our show this weekend is going to have some writing elements to accompany some of the visual elements,” she said.
But in addition to writing, many other things can contribute to healing, even laughter. Don’t they say laughter is the best medicine? Guest Speaker and Laughter Therapist Joanne Augenstein will introduce the evening with her presentation on “The Healing Benefits of Laughter.”
“Laughter is definitely a component of healing,” said Strong.
Overall, Strong said, art is one of the foremost ways a person can heal their minds, thus helping to heal their bodies. But how so? Strong broke it down to a process with three simple steps:
1. Anytime you hear your story, you feel empowered by the reality of it and the overbearing side of the emotion decreases by looking at it and talking about it.
2. When you share a story, you find out that other people have similar stories and that makes you feel less alone and so you feel supported.
3. Finally, when you’re creating a piece of work that represents your loss, you’re getting it from the inside to the outside where you can better manage it.

This event is hosted by the Yellow Springs Arts Council and will begin with an opening reception Friday, March 18 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the YSAC Gallery, 309 Xenia Ave. Music will be provided by the Yellow Springs Strings, directed by Shirley Mullins.
A fundraiser will accompany the show with raffled artwork by artists such as Corrine Bayraktaroglu, Tom Watson III, Libby Rudolf and services by wellness practitioners. The opening reception is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.ysartscouncil.org.

Reach DCP Editor Nicole Wroten at editor@daytoncitypaper.com.

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