(Cont’d from blog 1 of 6, May 9, 2015 https://redandorangehouse.com/2015/05/09/the-red-orange-house-conducts-first-workshop-to-fulfill-symington-foundation-grant/)
The drawings and writings highlighted in this blogpost and the 3 subsequent blogposts speak to the power of art as personal and community medicine. Tolstoy believed that the purpose of art was to provide a bridge of empathy between artists and viewer. Philospher Alain de Botten believes art is not mere aesthetic indulgence, art is a tool — a tool for both artist and viewer that serves a rather complex and important purpose in our existence~ to help us remember, find hope, feel our sorrow, re-balance, discover self-understanding, grow and appreciate.
My two recent Bodyscapes Technique art workshops were conducted for women living with, surviving or loving someone who has cancer. The words and the pastel drawings offer you new visions of illness~ from those who know it best. Their work reaches Tolstoy’s noble heights, using boldness, humor, pain and hope to heal both themselves and the rest of us.
Read these poems, look a the artwork. Then, read the poems while staring at the artwork. It will confirm that the work created during a Bodyscapes workshop is “a channel of empathy into our own psychology that lets us both exorcise and better understand our emotions — in other words, a form of therapy.” (brain pickins’, 25, October, 2013)
Carolyn Mann-Grove is a talented artist. She arrived at the Bodyscapes session with a developed understanding of of both poetry and drawing. Her poem, Po-Po Me Po-em, and her pastel drawing, Planet Tits Moon, talk about her memories of cancer~ Bodyscapes mindscapes body try, playn’ the cancer card~the specific details~Recoverage, discoverepairengagedespair in my head, even tho the missing breast did contain the extra brain. She spotlights and reminds us what information is important to communicate as a way to open a channel of empathy for both artist and audience ~ It was not all in my head. Through her work we all can exorcise and better understand our emotions at a critical time of illness. She ends, P.S. This really happened and I believe I am eligible for parole and fully entitled to keep my remaining breast, all organs and systems in reasonable health.
Human emotions range from passions with tidal wave power to the calm of a serene lake. Our body’s health seems to have a similar dramatic range. Chinese Medicine teaches that illness, everything from a mild condition to a debilitating one, is the body’s way to show imbalance. Leonie’s, storm in my body, rattled with the enigma called cancer, reminds us to acknowledge that our emotions and our body’s response to those emotions can lean drastically in one direction or another. Her poem forces us to think about the extreme pendulum between cancer and good health. Leonie, poised at this moment to make sense of it all, is not moving in one direction or the another as her emotions could dictate. She is standing still, reminding us that stillness is one way to re-balance and get in touch with what’s missing. As I regain my equilibrium and find the calm within.
Leonie’s pastel drawing, The Storm Within, is courageous, confident, and feminine. It is both beautiful and not beautiful. The image of a sensual pink pink breast sits aside a rigid blue breast that has a red zagged line running through it. The drawing challenges us to become self aware to understand why we might respond negatively to the image, averting our eyes from the sick blue breast, focusing on the healthy pink breast. In the drawing, The Storm Within, we must find a place to rest, balancing between overwhelming joy that we are healthy and the sorrowing understanding that illness and death are part of the human experience.
Leoni’s work succeeds in one of the important artist tasks, demanding that her viewers find new ways of open their eyes to critically important ideas about how to lead a balanced life.