Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Healing Journey

I attended an opening yesterday afternoon at The Lindsay Gallery.  The featured artist for the month of March is Debi Fitzgerald.  The exhibit is called "The Healing Journey: Triumph Over Tragedy" and features 12 paintings that she created to illustrate the process we go through when dealing with a loss, whether it is the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of physical mobility, etc.  You can read more about these paintings on her website here, although for greatest impact, I suggest you visit The Lindsay Gallery to see the 4 by 6 foot originals in person.

While listening to Debi speak at the opening and describe how the paintings came about, what I found most interesting was hearing about how her artwork not only helped her work through personal grief issues, it has also had a great impacted on the lives of people who have viewed them, which in turn has affected the course of her own life and taken her in a direction that she could not have predicted when she first began this creative process.  As a result of making these paintings, Debi has begun facilitating workshops that focus on the steps depicted in the paintings.  She speaks to social service groups involved in the areas of palliative care, grief counselling, suicide survivors, women's shelters and wellness clinics.  As Debi describes it, "art as therapy and a tool for healing is not new, but exhibiting my art for this purpose has become a rewarding part of my life now."  It is amazing to think that art can have this type of impact on the human spirit.

I also enjoyed hearing the story of how she had spent a great deal of time working on an image within one of the paintings, only to wake up one morning with a clear message in her mind that she needed to change that image in a major way.  She resisted the idea at first but in the end, listened to that voice, made the change and in my opinion, the painting is so much the better for it. I'm sure many of us can relate, I know I have often woken up with thoughts of art to be made swirling about in my brain.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the biologist and artist Rick Beaver.  I have long admired his work and have a couple of prints of his paintings that show wolves howling at the moon.  He and his wife have recently spent 2 years living in Mexico and are now back in Canada and Rick is back at the easel.  I look forward to seeing his new work when he is ready to share it with the world.  You can visit his website here.

Of course, I can't post photos of Debi's creations (you can see them on her website) but I can share a collage I made today which was inspired by seeing her artwork yesterday:

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