ART is Life, and Both Are Gifts – Gary’s Fall Gems
Art is life, no matter how fragile the times. Art is a testimony of the human condition. It encompasses our hardships, emotions, questions, decisions, and perceptions. Love, hatred, life, death. Essentially, the way in which we perceive our world and every aspect of humanity can be expressed through art. ~ Iranian-Dutch artist Sevdaliza
In the fall, nature takes out her paintbrushes and goes to town on her seasonal masterpiece. Along with spring, it’s my favourite season. I suppose it’s not a coincidence that both are seasons of change. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a passion for art first, as an amateur. Then, as I was exposed to more artists and styles, I became a collector. Walking through my home surrounded by the art I collected, I know art’s transformative power.
Artists are created as they create. The nature of art reflects the nature of man and how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings. Over twenty years ago, my husband Earl and I reflected on this power, especially in the context of how it can help us transcend our worries, angst, and even pain. How sad it was, we agreed, that the people most in need of reflection and inspiration, those in medical care facilities, only have blank walls to stare back at them.
We recently had the opportunity to see, in a very tactile way, how art and life are intertwined. Both came as a result of new Art for Healing installations. The first in Nottingham, UK and the second in Aupaluk, Nunavuk, Ungava Bay.
The first, in Nottingham came about through an old friend of mine, Mike Burkinshaw whom I met at an idustry event many years ago. I saw him annually at the same event except for the period around the pandemic. It turned out that Mike had been undergoing cancer treatment during the same time. Earlier this year I ran into him in New Orleans at the same conference which is when he told me what had happened. He added how grateful he was for the exceptional care he recieved at the Nottingham City Hospital. He asked if I thought the Art for Healing Foundation did international installations and if we did, he’d like to bring art to the Chemotherapy treatment ward of the hospital. I told him that we had already did an installation in Paris and we would be happy to go to Nottingham – but only if we could vist Robin and his merry men in Sherwood Forest. 😉
On August 18th, 2023, we flew to Nottingham to supervise the installation of the paintings. As you can see in these photos, they have transformed what were completely blank walls into a much more healing environment. The staff were very excited, as their goal is to give their patients the best possible care and the distraction and focus on beauty is something they know intuitively will help them accomplish this goal that much more.
“By showing us in drawings and sculptures how their ancestors lived, Inuit artists are keeping their history alive. Art helps them remember, and treasure, the ways their ancestors hunted and made protective clothing and shelter. In their art, many Inuit are making a visual history to show how their ancestors adapted to living in one of the harshest climates on earth.” (from Discover Inuit Art)
This brings us to our most recent installation of fourteen Indigenous and Inuit works for the new gallery at the new CLSC in Aupaluk, Nunavik on Ungava Bay. This was an incredably inspirational and educational trip. Art lives in the soles of the people here. Many thanks are due to Nathalie Poirier and the entire team at the Ungava Tulattavik Health Center in Kuujjuaq, for this amazing experience. This project was made possible by the donation of artwork by Mark London, Esti Mayer, Michael Patten, Marvin & Ellen Pinchuk, The Royal Bank of Canada and Barry & Monica Shapiro.
Havng experienced the magical Northern Lights (aurora borealis), rugged landscapes and a truly generous people, I really don’t think I will be the same Gary I was before the trip. I always admired Inuit and Native art, but being in this landscape for even a few days, gave me a far deeper understanding of its meaning and beauty.
Art is a huge part of what makes humans, well, human. Since Neanderthals reached out and made strokes in red ochre on the cave wall 65,000 years ago, we have been compelled to express ourselves. Art, in all its myriad forms, is universal throughout all human history and expressed in every single culture. To quote the American artist Richard Kamler
“Art is our one true global language. It knows no nation, it favours no race, it acknowledges no class. It speaks to our need to reveal, heal and transform.”
The meaning of any one piece of art is, of course, subjective. But whatever meaning we take from Rembrandt or Jackson Pollock will be the gift whose value will be in the eyes of the beholder. Be it visual art, literature, music, or dance, the interpretations of life’s experiences are as diverse as the lives that experience them.
Two questions always asked in any discussion about art are, “What is art?” and “What makes someone an artist.”
Recently, I came across a quote by the artist Helena Bonham Carter that resonated with me.
“I think everything in life is art. What you do, how you dress. The way you love someone, how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, all of your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home, or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks and how you feel.”
Life is art.
Anything done with a higher goal, an open mindset, and a wish to inspire others, is an artistic endeavour. If we add to that the goal to live a life inspired by the Golden Rule, then indeed, what a wonderful world this would be.