I’ve currently enrolled in a graduate certificate in Health Humanities and Bioethics. The students in the class are from all areas of healthcare: physicians, medical students, physical therapists, nurses and nurse educators, and me a visual anthropologist. Our class this week focused on “the gaze”, the way we view the medical community and their interaction with their patients. We read works by William Carlos Williams retelling his account with a child who was suspected of having diphtheria. The conversation switched to the visual of medicine; paintings capturing doctors performing autopsies, and then paintings showing doctors caring for their patients.
Williams has written many books of poetry focusing on his experience as a physician. He captures the struggles he experienced being a physician, and simultaneously flipping to express the perceived experience of the patient. He’s honest in his accounts, not trying to sugar coat the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a physician.
We moved on to other depictions of illness and disease and on the screen, was a self-portrait done by Frida Kahlo. Kahlo had polio as a child. She then was involved in a very bad accident and was bedridden for a long period of time. It was during that time that her parents put a mirror under the canopy of her bed so she could see herself. It was during this time that she drew/painted many self-portraits. Throughout her life she was her most prominent subject. Her honesty shows us her determination to tell her own story with truth by painting in-you-face self-portraits.
Kahlo’s work punctuates the desire, even need to tell one’s story. She shared her life and a visual autobiography. Her paintings showed what’s possible following a life challenge by depicting strength and vulnerability. It’s clear that she was motivated internally to get her message out to the public. Her works are an inspiration to those who are facing life altering events.
What do you need to tell us? How will you use your internal creative instincts to share your truth, the story of your life? View some of Kahlo’s work and see what moves you and works you. It’s an interesting way to see what serves as a catalyst for telling your life story.
Why do you create? At first you’ll respond with, “I create because I’m an artist.” That would be true for many but not all. However, I’d like you to take it a step further. Why do you create? Is there a story to be told? Did you have an experience that is seeping out of your pores and your art expels it from your body? Is it a celebration you want to share? There is something beyond just the fact that you’re an artist. We spiritual beings having a human experience; we’re all artists.
Romare Bearden shared, “An artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art he sees, something is missing; to put there what he feels is missing becomes the center of his life’s work.” The mind is powerful and is in a state of flux when there are gaps in experiences. We want wholeness, completion, and resolution. Our creative energies are expansive and strive to fill in the gaps. In fact, according to Bearden the gaps are our motivation and inspiration. The truth is that we can all spend the rest of our lives filling in the gaps.
The great thing about filling in the gaps is what we’re never without a catalyst to create. Art can serve as a means to making the necessary connections between ideas or feelings that are floating out there on their own. In London, when traveling on the tube, stenciled on the ground is “mind the gap”. What if you applied that saying to your own work? Being mindful of the gap brings awareness to your work. It allows you to share your inner healing and wholeness with the world and the Universe.
Bearden’s insight was profound. Exploring the gap allows us to develop a plethora or opportunities. We’re looking toward the future. The gap is a roadmap on your journey to bountiful. What will you do with your gap?
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I’m always looking for inspiration to spark a creative experience. Inspiration can come from stories, viewing other artwork, and the media, just to name a few. I spend a lot of time at the bookstore in the magazine section viewing artist magazines from a myriad of mediums. Art is great because we can translate the work from other mediums into our own medium or be inspired to try a new medium.
Art, for me, is an expression of my human experience. The art I create, and that created by others is often an expression of an experience. There is something to creating a piece of art that reflects our inner experience. I equate creative expression to dreamwork because it allows us to bring to consciousness those thoughts, ideas, and experiences that may be of the subconscious realm.
The other component to creating works of art in the process of healing and expression is the sense of wonder. I’m working on a couple of pieces and find that I’m continuously drawn to the idea and images of bridges. I’m looking at pictures online, talking about bridges, and asking myself what is it about bridges in this time that’s so important.
Wonder can also be a community experience. “The Artist’s Magazine” has a cover story titled, “Women Painting Women”. The article speaks about how, in the past, women have been passive subjects in works of art. The idea of women painting women is serves as a message of empowerment and a shift in the consciousness of women, art, and meaning.
When we pay attention to the questions that keep arising we’re drawn to digging deeper into our consciousness and our soul. These questions help us extract healing principles through creative expression. Resolution brings a sense of peace. Ultimate self-expression allows us to be seen and heard and that’s paramount to living a life full of possibility.
How does wonder manifest itself in your creative expression? I’d love you to share your experience in the comment section below. For more information you can visit http://www.survivingstrong.com.