Hope and Healing, 2021

This weekend my husband and I visited the Hope and Healing exhibit at the Allentown Art Museum.

The exhibit features artwork by high school and college students with the theme of providing hope and healing through art to those who are ill or injured or facing health issues. After the exhibit the artwork is offered free to any health office, hospital, or other healing site, so that the images may comfort and calm those people who are in need of it at difficult times in their lives.

The exhibit is an annual event of Healing Through the Arts, an organization founded by Heather Rodale after her encounter with cancer. Here is the exhibit’s explanatory statement:

This exhibit is very meaningful to me. If you have followed this blog for some time, you may remember that back in 2013-2014, I had a series of health problems, surgeries, and difficulties that honestly almost sank my ship. With the help of doctors, therapists, and most importantly, friends and family, I recovered, but it was a very long journey.

I first visited this event in 2014 and it made a deep impression on me. I was probably at my lowest point around that time and the messages of the art’s hopeful images and the written artist statements came back to me in later weeks as I struggled to manage each day.

I visited again in 2016, when things were better, and I wrote a post about the experience. As I read back over it I am reminded of those dark days of my life and the hopeful thread that this exhibit has represented for me over all the years. Even being able to go to the exhibit in 2016 was an act of recovery for me, something I very much appreciated.

Now here we are in 2021 and the entire world is in need of hope and healing. When I saw the notice for the exhibit I made it a priority to attend.

Here are views of all the art:

And now I will show you some that struck me. Let me say up front that each artwork in the show is heartfelt and outreaching. Each artist put obvious care and thought into the work, and all the images speak to the viewer. The artists also presented a short statement about their pieces, and I was struck by the emotion and the personal nature of the inspiration that went into these pieces. I would welcome the sight of any of these images as I waited for a medical procedure or in a doctor’s office visit.

Cats always make me feel better. Here are a couple that caught my eye.

I think I missed getting a closeup of this artist’s statement for this next one but it involved the calming effects of wrapping the twigs and sticks with the yarn, which were then arranged in this composition. I am planning to try this myself because of that I saw and read here. It struck me as a meditation and art, all at once.

I read a lot. I have done so all my life. This next artist captured what for me is the magic of reading – you truly can be lost in a book, or travel, or be enlightened, and all of it takes you away from the cares you may have, including those associated with illness. As they say, priceless.

in this colorful piece, I did feel happier looking at the colors and designs, and I think the artist’s goal was met!

The colors and the intricate shapes of this next piece were to me, very calming, as my eye followed not only the overall look of the image but also traced through the spirals of the quilled paper. I would like to try this myself as once again I would imagine it to be a meditative calming process.

This piece was my Viewer’s Choice. From across the room the image pulled me over to look at it – something about it really spoke to me. When I read the artist’s statement, I wished I could tell her in person that her painting has a great message and it visually called on me, loud and clear, to look at it with enjoyment and to reflect on what it was telling me. I am so hopeful that in this year we can all maybe remember more of this emotion.

Butterflies express hope and transformation. I especially liked the one that was just emerging into the world. A small start of a new life, a small beginning that will grow. And I like it that the person is paying attention to this little event. As the artist says, appreciate the simple things in life.

I’m ending with another cat. I was very struck with the softness of this image in contrast to the inspiration of the ceramic figurine. And I really liked the idea of the stillness of the cat providing a way to still the spirit in the middle of a chaotic situation. I had never thought of things in that way and I feel it will stick with me.

Well, that’s just a sample of what I saw. I am very grateful to the Healing Through the Arts organization for this event. It was more than just looking at art, for me. I came away with a sense of rebalancing myself in this very confusing world we are in right now. Thank you.

About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

15 responses to “Hope and Healing, 2021

  1. Diane

    Thank you for sharing this. I never knew about this exhibition or that you attended regularly. I see the woman’s name is Rodale. Is she part of the Rodale family as of “Rodale Institute”?

  2. As always the student exhibitions are always inspiring

  3. What a wonderful show. Thanks for sharing. I also love to wrap twigs in yarn/thread and my favorite local artist is a master of the art. I’m glad you’re doing well and look forward to a healthier future for us all.

    • Thank you. I had never thought of wrapping sticks and as soon as I saw this, the idea appealed to me. Glad to hear from you and you are right, a healthier future for us all is what we hope for.

  4. Angie K Walker

    lovely display and very well curated. My personal favourite is Love by Kaylin. Love the colours and it just connects with me.

    • Yes, I felt the same way, it just called out to me. I could have taken photos of all of the artworks as I kept seeing more I liked, but these were the ones that really caught my emotions, that I show here.

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