Inspired healing – new exhibition explores the Power of Spirituality in Healing
What are the roles of art and spirituality in healing? While this question has long been the subject of exploration and investigation by different communities, including health practitioners, academics and artists, finding answers to it has become increasingly relevant today. The Wits Adler Museum of Medicine, in collaboration with artist Shanti Govender is exploring the Power of Spirituality in Healing through Shanti’s thought provoking exhibition from body to being. The exhibition opens on 25 August and runs until 8 October 2016.
Shanti, a Wits Fine Art graduate, regards her art as “a form of meditative practice” and was inspired by the experiences of her mother, who succumbed to a chronic illness after 10 years. This traumatic and emotional experience encouraged the emergence of issues of body identity and questions about the relationship between the corporeal and incorporeal self. Shanti explains that her work has therefore become a form of therapy, and that her exhibition ultimately serves as a platform from which to explore the relationship between art, spirituality and healing.
Initially, Shanti explored the relationship between art, spirituality and healing from the perspective of degeneration, decay and dying, in an attempt at representing the ‘unseen beauty’ in the body’s gradual and sometimes-sudden loss of vitality.
With time, the focus of her work shifted to explore the body as a portal through which to enter and connect with her inner spiritual universe experiencing it in all its complexity, mystery and wonder. She investigates and represents the body’s various organs and systems to discover and uncover the body’s inner world, bristling with intelligence, wisdom and energy.
Owing to the fundamentally meditative quality of the work, the collection is quiet and almost prescient, allowing for the exploration of the body which is both intimate and revealing, both vulnerable and exposed, without being intrusive or obnoxious. This is aided by the fact that the creation of the work is itself a significant component of this process. This process is characterized by gentle focus and quiet determination and results in a body of work in which each component emerges as the product of catharsis and contemplation. Though independent in their own rights, the individual works share a connectedness that speaks to Shanti’s capacity to capture and explore the shared experiences and physicality of the body.
From body to being is presented in the context of a broader conversation in which art and medicine converge to shed light on opportunities for introducing the spiritual dimension in healing. The other voices forming part of this conversation are those of artists Dr. Tindile Booi, Shelley Barry and the late Charlene Maslamoney.
Storyteller and medical doctor, Tindile Booi has worked in multiple medical fields and programmes including HIV research and psychiatry, with a particular interest in the development of gender-specific group therapy. She is currently a member of the medical team at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital and plans to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. She channels messages of healing through her storytelling and seeks to “infect the world with a new way of being that lives in all our life stories.”
Shelley Barry is a filmmaker, poet and lecturer and has worked extensively as a disability rights activist. She has produced several internationally award-winning documentaries across multiple genres, most notably the experimental Whole – A Trinity of Being. Much of her work explores the aesthetics of cinematography from the perspective of a wheelchair user. She is also the founder and director of Two Spinning Wheels Productions and currently lectures in film studies at the University of Johannesburg.
In 2013 artist, writer, producer, and photographer Charlene Maslamoney passed away from cancer. Through her book and film I’m not done yet – Allowing Possibilities, she shares her experiences of living with stage 4 terminal cancer. She explores a range of concepts on healing that sustained her through this experience. In sharing her experience she reminds us that we are not our bodies. Charlene’s insights and views on sustaining herself through her daily challenges is a vital source of knowledge and inspiration. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards sponsoring Vitamin-C drips for cancer patients.
Based at the Faculty of Health Science and Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, the Adler Museum of Medicine invites artists whose work is of specific interest to the health sciences. The exhibitions are intended to engage the medical students in the faculty, school learners and the general public. Art within the space, both the museum and the faculty, is curated to raise awareness and visually engage viewers in health matters and broader social health issues.
“The Adler Museum of Medicine is proud to host this exhibition that brings together the voices and work of these artists in this month when we celebrate the struggles and achievements of women,“ says the Adler Museum Collections Manager, David Sepeke Sekgwele.
The exhibition will be enriched by artist walkabouts and a series of panel discussions that bring together artists, academics, medical practitioners, students and the broader public, all aimed at stimulating discussion regarding the roles of art and spirituality in the healing process.
A percentage of the sale of artwork will be used to sponsor initiatives in support of healthcare and healing at selected public hospitals/clinics or other healthcare facilities e.g. hospice. These initiatives will be implemented both by the artist and the Adler Museum of Medicine.