Monday, November 10, 2008

Art and Contemplation


Hildegarde of Bingen - Visionary - At the Table
Marsha Monroe Pippinger


Art, in the form of paintings and photographs amd collages, played a big role in my CPE experience this past summer. Famous Giant Hospital has a substantial art collection, which several of us utilized on a regular basis for assistance with the labyrinthine geography of the acres and acres of campus marked by indistinguishable pathways of light gray walls. "Take the elevator across from the pool painting," or "Go down the hallway with the French landscape photos," or, "It's right next to the portrait of the scary lady."

As the summer wore on and I no longer needed to rely on the artwork as signposts to get myself from one building to another, it evolved into a form of mini-respite which I often sought during the day. I made a point of looking for my favorite pieces in the various units and patient rooms, and paid special attention to the art whenever I found myself a new section of the hospital. I don't know whether many other people even notice what's on the walls, but I often paused for a minute or two, consciously taking in the various elements of a piece, letting them serve as balm for a mind agitated by surgeries and crises and deaths. Sometimes I could practically feel my brain cells relaxing into shapes more amenable to listening than to urgent activity, restoring my capacity for hearing what my patients and their family members had to say and for noticing when they could not say it.

In the past couple of weeks, ever since returning from Oregon and Mount Angel Abbey, I've been wandering around the internet looking for art -- icons, yes, but everything else, too. It's hard to find what I imagine someone in my situation would create ~ what I would create if I could ~ so I have begun to feel like a detective obsessed with discovering clues to the mystery. What do I want? Color saturation, harsh and uneven shapes and edges, surreal interpretations of old stories. Preferably stories of people absorbing that which is impossible to absorb, and learning to live without resolution. Please do not offer me classical lines or soothing hues. I once started to cry when I saw Michaelangelo's David in Florence, but I'm not at all sure that it would move me these days. All that strength and perfection, that sense of personal destiny in an ordered cosmological hierarchy - what could it possibly communicate to me now?

All this to say -- there is some art coming up. I'm on its trail, and I will report back on what I find.

12 comments:

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Looking forward to seeing the art that speaks to you and speaks for your soul in this time.

Cynthia said...

I cannot tell you how much art helps me. I art surf almost daily, but never know what will appeal to my spirit or apply the balm that I crave. It's only when I find it that I do know. The color saturation is something we have in common in what appeals now. That you know what you want is significant.

Joan Calvin said...

I look forward too to seeing the art that speaks to you. I had forgotten about the art at Huge Hospital. They had several huge paintings by local Carl Krabill when I was there. I loved his paintings, but you are right, everywhere were beautiful artworks.

I'm sure they've given thought to the impact of art on our souls. And your post was a reminder to me that I should pay attention to beauty

mompriest said...

love art...all mediums....looking forward to your reflections

Presbyterian Gal said...

While searching, you could also make a collage. Collect images that touch you and then mass them together. That might also be a healing process.

Stratoz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stushie said...

I create some religious digital art using crayons, a scanner, and mspaint. It's mainly therapeutic for me.

You can check it out at www.stushieart.wordpress.com

Jan said...

I'm so glad you're sharing.

Lisa :-] said...

I've often wondered what inspiration lay behind some of the more surrealistic art I've encountered. Perhaps now we are beginning to learn...

Anonymous said...

Gannet Girl,

Thank you for posting my work on your blog; I would like to start a dialogue with you.

Gannet Girl said...

Anonymous (Marsha?), I'd love to "talk." It's a magnificent painting.

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Gannet Girl said...

Anonymous (Marsha?), I'd love to "talk." It's a magnificent painting.

gannetgirlatsbcglobaldotnet