In present day attempts to consciously deploy the curative or healing essence of art, a few health centres including infirmaries and convalescence centres, have been involved with the research and adoption of art therapy. Thus clinics have been equipped with pictures (apart from music) that will enable patients recover quickly. In children’s wards for example, serene pictures depicting atmospheres of play and cheer are being used just by hanging them on the walls for the patients to see all the time. This approach is equally necessary in the adult wards. Also, super surreal pictures will go along way towards penetrating the soul of the on-looker. These kind of paintings truly engage the audience in a dialogue and conversation that touches the on the spirit. The essence of it is that the spirit man predominates the physical.
Sometimes it could be paintings showing holiday atmosphere; serene and solitary hideouts and resorts, etc. I emphasise paintings, and not just photographs, because the appeal of a painted picture is always different. It is unique, more romantic, and quaint and looking … you know, ‘created’. It could still be a quality print, i.e. the reproduction of an original painting.
I once discussed this aspect of art with a doctor friend of mine and he was deeply fascinated and amazed at this startling possibilities. We should start applying this in our hospitals and clinics with all seriousness. The use and application of this form of therapy then would therefore actually transcend from the mundane to the subliminal essence, by psychologists, physicians, psychiatrists and even spiritualists alike. It is indeed a whole new world.
|Surreal painting by Jim Warren|
And so what do we discover? It proves that no art is without impact; and no honest art is useless or without function. Therefore all art should not necessarily be polit art or some expressionistic symbols with belligerent overtones. Art should not always have to scream at you, or shout blood and depression. Some of what some unlearned critics and uninformed patrons, and even artists, see as pedestrian, ordinary, and lacking in function and purpose, could actually be treasure houses of elixir, and soothing balms for the soul. I seriously think this form of art deployment should now be seen, not as an alternative, which will be most naïve, but rather as a complement to orthodox medical science, and consciously applied, by enlightened or trained experts, in helping patients respond to healing, and recuperate effectively.
Certainly, a very pungent and provoking message in a piece of art that is aimed at social commentary will not be healthy viewing if you are looking to ameliorating accumulated tress of a corporate executive, daily hassles, or the urban traffic. But it will pay such an individual better to relax in front of a beautiful and tranquil picture. It definitely will help relax the nerves as well as lower the blood pressure. Some of these kinds of pictures will include – nature, country landscapes, seascapes, rhythmic abstractions or what I might call ‘painted music’, and related concepts.
On the other hand however, the very vocal and sobering pictures can be applied to impact positively on the mind and even body of that other person who is virtually on the edge and about to ‘tip over’ due to persecution, affliction or even depression. This will be to enable the person stop to think and reflect. Even in certain climes a unique form or approach to Art therapy has been developed, being the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who are eager to develop their personal being. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can come to heighten consciousness of self and others to cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; they are able to improve on their cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.
So we discover, like we have usually seen in and around some of our homes, that the bedroom and living room for instance must be equipped with suitable functional art. The open spaces and parks must be dressed in the same vein. The therapeutic effect of art is so evident by the time you come to consider the reasons and purposes for the application of child art concepts on the walls and classrooms of nursery schools, and places of worship. Thus sobering pictures of saints, the crucifixion and visions, etc, are in themselves instruments for enhancing health by spiritual insight.
All of these undoubtedly can be consciously applied to achieve an effectual soul and body harmony once the mind has been adequately penetrated. Out of our sub-conscious we have applied art therapy in so many aspects of our lives, may be by just following certain laid down rules and regulations. But society must begin to consciously heal itself with art by the right application and at the right time and place as we rightly discover, recognise and appreciate this hidden noble and divine functions and quality of art.
By Morgan Nwanguma