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Your Prescription: Look at Art

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Art therapists today help their patients cope with anxiety, addiction, illness, or pain. Therapists might encourage clients to explore their emotions by drawing, for example, or to reflect on a difficult experience through painting. Art is used to help people express themselves and explore their emotions.

In past centuries, however, art therapy took a substantially different form. Maybe it’s time to bring this practice of the past into the present—as a way to move into the future.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is a 16th-century sculpted and painted work housed in an old convent-turned-museum in the medieval city of Colmar, France—a city with wood-framed houses and winding footpaths that appear to have changed little in 500 years.

Altarpieces have long been used to decorate churches and to tell stories, but the Isenheim Altarpiece offered an additional therapeutic function. The religious order that cared for the sick, the Antonites, “prescribed” viewing the altarpiece to those in their hospitals. They led the sick to the choir area of the Isenheim church, where they provided them with fresh bread and saint vinage, an herb-infused wine. In this quiet space, patients could meditate on the paintings that comprised the altarpiece.

The Isenheim Altarpiece’s central panel displayed a plague-infected crucified Christ. For Europeans in the Middle Ages, religious art held a particular power over the social imagination: Patients sick with bubonic plague would have derived great consolation from the image of Christ similarly afflicted. The painting told them Christ’s body was ruined like theirs, that he understood their suffering, and that they were not alone. It silently relieved some of the deepest anxieties of the sick and dying: decay of the body, pain, isolation.

Over the centuries, the Isenheim Altarpiece has continued to impress artists and writers. American novelist Francine Prose was particularly astonished by its use as art therapy. She described viewing the altarpiece as life-changing and said she was surprised to discover, “at some point in our history, a society thought that this was what art could do: that art might possibly accomplish something like a small miracle of comfort and consolation.”

Could art still accomplish a miracle of comfort and consolation today? Could it remind people of their mortality while also mitigating fear? Could it foreshadow the inevitable while also instilling hope?

When the Antonites prescribed viewing the Isenheim Altarpiece, it was meant to be life-changing. The sick ate bread, drank wine, and metaphorically consumed the painting. And that consumption allowed for personal transformation. Patients opened themselves up to the image of the dying Christ and received comfort through solidarity.

Today, we also consume art. Indeed, the Isenheim Altarpiece now sits in a world-class museum on display for those who can pay. But do we let art transform us? Do we allow art to remind us of our finitude and comfort us in our brokenness? Or do we see it merely as pay-for-view works of creative expression—or, worse still, its possession as a symbol of social status? Do we own art, but refuse to let it shape us?

I was of the persuasion that art had perhaps been irredeemably commodified, along with the rest of what is good, true, and beautiful in life. And then I went to France to see the altarpiece for myself.

Space does not permit its adequate description. The altarpiece’s multiple layers, stories, sculpture, and painting are all so rich. What I saw in France confirmed for me that the masterpiece continues to exert its life-changing influence. Art can still perform miracles of comfort and consolation.

I spent my day in Colmar scrutinizing the Isenheim Altarpiece from all angles. I had prepared in advance, and I drew on my research to take in its every feature.

At the end of the day, I went up to the balcony overlooking the work. I had examined its detail. Now I wanted to take it all in at once. But from my view above, it wasn’t the painting that captured my attention.

The hour was late, and the museum was nearly empty. Only two people remained. A thin middle-aged man who walked with a cane shuffled slowly from panel to panel. It was as if he were loath to leave and was trying to squeeze every last drop out of his medicine. On a bench sat a tiny elderly lady with loose white curls who was meditating on the disfigured Christ. The two of them were captivated, and I was captivated by their captivation. Broken and aged as they were, they were drinking in the beauty of art and receiving consolation of a different dimension.

 

Source:- Psychology Today

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Travel news: Local cultural events, live music and art classes – The Globe and Mail

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Lekwungen traditional dancers in Saanich, B.C., in 2019.

Kevin Light/Handout

An expanded Culture Days 2020 launches Sept. 25 across Canada with the theme Unexpected Intersections, offering free livestream and in-person arts and culture experiences. Concerts, art classes, dance performances and self-guided tours are some of the options available until Oct. 25. Highlights include Nuit Blanche in Winnipeg, Behind the Wall: Making of a collective mural by the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre and the Yukon Arts Centre’s Waterfront Parade in Whitehorse.

Get a dose of live music at Vancouver’s Gastown Unplugged, a pop-up music series happening until the end of October. Wander the cobblestones or listen from a patio to local musicians at four locations including the Maple Tree Square Pop-Up Plaza.

At Vancouver’s Gastown Unplugged, listen from a patio to local musicians at four locations.

Gastown Unplugged/Handout

Supplement back to school with BIPOC history and stories: digital Doors Open Ontario has videos, virtual tours and photos from Canadian Black History sites such as Amherstburg Freedom Museum, Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site and John Freeman Walls Underground Railroad Museum while Hot Docs at Home (hotdocs.ca) has launched For Viola, a documentary series focused on BIPOC stories and filmmakers, streaming for free.

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Kimpton Hotels has introduced Chief Virtual Learning Officers (CVLO), helping families on vacation with remote learning. Reserve access to an on-property CVLO and get set up with complimentary desks, snacks and school supplies. Now available at Toronto’s Kimpton Saint George (kimptonsaintgeorge.com), the hotel currently offers a 15-per-cent discount on reservations made three days in advance for IHG members who book directly.

Writerfest in Kingston, Ont., in 2019.

Garrett Elliott/Handout

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2nd annual Newmarket Juried Art Show goes online – NewmarketToday.ca

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The organizers of the Newmarket Juried Art Show (NJAS) took to heart the well-known credo that “the show must go on.”

With the closure of Serpa Galleries in Newmarket’s Old Town Hall due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, this year’s art show is being held online beginning Oct. 7.

“We believe the arts are integral to strong, resilient communities and that such resilience is increasingly important in the face of a changing climate and other global challenges,” said NJAS co-directors David Kempton and Peggy Stevens in a news release. “We hope to showcase Newmarket as an arts hub – both to the province and to itself. Newmarket has a thriving collection of artists.”

Paintings, photography, sculptures, mixed media and ceramics are among the mediums that will be on display by artists from across southern Ontario.

An online gala will be held Oct. 15, starting at 7 p.m. There will be cash awards announced at the gala for the different categories of artwork, as well as a Juror’s Choice award.

“Following on the great success of the First Annual Newmarket Juried Art Show in October 2019, we were very much looking forward to NJAS 2020. Then COVID-19 happened,” the organizers said. “After much discussion, we decided to go for it, and have created an online version for this year.”

The online version of the show included lowering the entry fee, making alternate arrangements for artists hit hard by the pandemic, and doing the jurying by Zoom.

In total, 112 pieces of work were entered by 40 artists from across Ontario, from Windsor to Reaboro, and Penetanguishene to Fonthill.

Of those, 31 pieces of artwork submitted by 28 artists — 10 of whom are from Newmarket and Aurora — were selected for the show. 

Judging was based on digital images submitted by the artists, and the images were “anonymized”, organizers said.

All award money and other support was donated by local citizens and small businesses.

The Town of Newmarket partnered with them to help make the show a reality, they added.

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Their ancestors were sworn enemies. Now two artists are exploring the power of apology – Art Connects on q – CBC.ca

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An archival photograph shows Stimson’s great-great-great-grandfather Chief Old Sun in 1883. He is wearing his chief’s coat and treaty medal and holding an eagle wing fan, and his hat is trimmed with ribbons by Rev. Tims’s wife Violet. (Courtesy of Glenbow Archives)

Six years later, in 1883, Bronson’s great-grandfather, Rev. John William Tims, became the first Anglican missionary sent to the Siksika nation, where he was tasked with building the community’s first church and residential school.

As was the case across Canada, Indigenous children were taken from their parents and forced into residential schools where they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused, creating profound intergenerational trauma that still ricochets through the community half a century after Old Sun closed. Many call it a cultural genocide.

“[Rev. Tims] took the children away from their parents, he forbade them to speak their own language or practise their own customs or wear their own clothes,” Bronson said of his ancestor. “And he did his best to destroy Siksika culture.”

In a bitter twist, the Siksika school was named after Stimson’s ancestor, Chief Old Sun.

“It’s ironic that his name would be used in an institution that was meant to kill the Indian in the child,” said Stimson, who himself suffered abuse at residential schools.

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