The Heart of Healing public sculpture | Dancing with the Phoenix art show | Healing through Painting groups |   Events   |   Media
Support Arts for Healing | Our Supporters | Remarks | Mission | Contact Us | Home

Martia Nelson, Director Arts For Healing
Martia Nelson's Blog

The sculpture is done, and it’s gorgeous!

In fact it’s already on exhibit. Click this link to read about the sculpture and this link to see the beginning of the exhibit schedule

Be sure to mark you calendar for the BIG Opening Reception at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts on Friday, December 2, 5-8pm.

After nine months of steady work on the project, I’m delighted to see such a beautiful and meaningful sculpture be born. It carries 70 objects given by folks like you, and a few unexpected ones from Monty, like a treasure chest and a vintage wooden leg! That guy is full of surprises.

And he did brilliant work bringing 70 apparently disparate objects together in a fascinating and beautiful art piece.

By the way, Monty named the sculpture “Life’s Voyage.” It’s seven feet high and nine feet long! Striking from afar and quite engaging close up.

If you or people you know missed the boat (pun unavoidable) for giving objects to Life’s Voyage, don’t worry. You don’t have to be left out for long. I’m now accepting objects for the next sculpture in The Heart of Healing series. Just click on “Give an Object.”

(By the way, I’ve deleted some previous blog entries that are no longer relevant now that Life’s Voyage is done.)

More later. Meanwhile, I’m off to a much needed retreat in the mountains. Ah, pine forests, here I come….

Monty starting the sculpture.

Installing Life’s Voyage.


E-mail Martia!
Message From Monty.

The fabulous assemblage sculptor, Monty Monty, who will be putting together The Heart of Healing sculpture sent me a message to pass on to you. He says:


First, I would like to thank everyone who is contributing to this process of
creating a visual reminder of how cancer has played a roll in so many lives
in so many ways.

When I was 14 years old my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and our
lives were forever changed. I have witnessed first hand all the emotions you
can imagine: experiencing the highs and the lows, all the while admiring the
love and courage before me.

My involvement in this project is a result of this life experience.

My intention is to create a visual work of art that will represent lives
lived and lost while expressing the joy of life along "Life's Voyage".

Your donated objects will be used in my process to create this public
artwork that will truly be an authentic tribute to you and to everyone around you.

Your involvement in this public cancer awareness project is very important,
and I know too that it is very important to you.

I am excited about this project! I am looking forward to working with all of you.

Thanks for your support!

Artfully yours,
Monty Monty


E-mail Martia!

What object do you want to send?

Yay, I'm blogging again promptly!

I've been wanting to talk about objects with those of you who haven't sent any yet. I think that I started out making it sound waaaay too complicated. Even my closest friends said, "Huh?"

Giving an object is meant to be simple and easy. It's a two-part process. Part one is to ask yourself "What helped me to cope with cancer?" or "What was empowering for me while coping with cancer?" (Your cancer or someone else's.) It might be something little that you did, like watching more sunsets or remembering that people cared about you. Or it might be something little that other people did, like giving you more hugs or sending you caring cards.

Or it might be something big like a family member traveling across the country to spend a month with you. Little or big doesn't matter; anything that was at all helpful or empowering for you is good. If several things come to mind, chose one and…ahhhh…let the others go.

Part two is to ask yourself, "What object might represent that thing that helped me to cope?" Very ordinary objects are wonderful. Your object is symbolic, which means that it represents your experience. You can't send us a sunset for the sculpture, but you can send us a postcard of one. Or a piece of fabric that is sunset orange. If people's hugs made you feel safe and loved, soothed the way a child feels soothed by a teddy bear - maybe send a teddy bear. (You can get it at the Dollar Store; it doesn't need to be expensive.)

You don't have to send an object that you would rather keep. No sacrifice is required. Dealing with cancer was the hard part - participating in this sculpture should be easy. And enjoyable. This art is symbolic, so send any object that represents your empowering experience. (Be sure to read the Guidelines and fill out the Object Submission Form before you send your object.)

If you get stuck on part one or part two, call me and I'll help you. I bet it will take us less than five minutes to figure it out. Same goes with writing the description. Give me another five minutes, and I can put a description together from what you tell me. The description has a 50-word limit - that's two to three good-sized sentences - so it's short and simple. Easy. Let me know if I can help. (707) 823-4403.

So, what object are you thinking of sending?

E-mail Martia!

Intermittent Blogger Reports In.

It turns out that I'm an intermittent blogger. It's been two months since my last entry. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to write more often than that!

It's been a busy two months. Arts for Healing was selected as a model program by the Society for the Arts in Health Care (SAH) in Washington, DC, so I was invited to be a presenter at SAH's international conference in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. What a fabulous trip! I attended four days of presentations while I was there and came back recharged. Most fascinating for me was hearing about research that shows that making art creates measurable improvement in physical and psychological health. I knew that we were onto something good here at Arts for Healing, but it was wonderful to hear the scientific validation!

I learned that making art can result in measurable results like:

  • Fewer doctor visits over the following year.
  • Shorter hospital stays for inpatients.
  • Faster healing of physical wounds.
  • Reduction in pain medication.
  • Improvement in immune markers.
  • Reduction in depression.
  • Increased emotional well-being.

It seems that some formats for creative expression and art making show stronger health-positive effects than other. Particularly effective formats include:

  • Creating art and then sharing it verbally with other people via talking or writing.
  • Doing something that creates meaning from the suffering related to cancer.
  • Contributing our experience to a larger purpose, to something positive that is greater than ourselves.

I was thrilled with this information about formats. These are all formats present in the Healing through Painting groups and The Heart of Healing sculpture project.

So if you haven't given an object to The Heart of Healing yet, go ahead and do it - it could be good for your health!

E-mail Martia!

Sandy Simpson

Sandy Simpson knows about empowering ways to deal with cancer.

She also knows about shock, fear, not knowing if she would live - and, during chemotherapy, sometimes feeling so sick that she wasn't sure she wanted to live.

Sandy called me in January 2003 to join a Healing through Painting group. She'd had surgery for breast cancer and was about to start chemotherapy. "I needed support," she later told me. "I wanted to be with people who knew first hand what I was going through, but I wasn't the kind of person to sit in a circle for two hours just talking." A painting support group appealed to her.

For several months Sandy was a regular in the group. She talked about her feelings, listened, gave and received support, and painted her heart out. Like everyone else in the group, Sandy's life had been thoroughly shaken by her cancer diagnosis and treatment. One thing that shook loose was complacency about leading a life that wasn't fully satisfying to her. When treatment was over and she was putting her life back together, Sandy made some changes.

"Having cancer made me realize that every day truly could be my last. Surviving cancer made me ask the question: Am I really doing what I want to do with my life?" After treatment Sandy went back to her job as an office manager, but her heart wasn't in it. Her heart was with dogs.

While Sandy had been going through treatment, the most empowering force in her life had been her wonderful dog, Dude. "Dude was so attached to me that I had to live for him, even when I felt so sick that I didn't know if I wanted to live for myself," she says. "And I had to get up everyday to take him for his walk. Taking him for a walk made me get outside. Getting outside made me feel better."

Sandy kept her office manager job for the stability it gave to her life, but evenings and weekends she devoted to her love for dogs. She took classes and became a dog trainer. Then, after the umpteenth batch of doggie treats that she baked for Dude and doled out to her buddies at the dog park, she got the idea of starting her own business: a dog bakery.

That idea had life to it. Six months later, Sandy quit her office manager job and was hard at work cleaning and painting a warehouse in downtown Santa Rosa, readying it to become My Dog Bakery.

Yesterday I went to a pre-opening party at My Dog Bakery. I didn't go alone; I went with the guy I go almost everywhere with. Rincon. Half Yellow Lab and half Golden Retriever, Rincon loves parties and is always ready to offer his paw to shake. He was bound to like My Dog Bakery because doggie treats are his favorite things in the whole world. But when he saw the racks of dog toys and the other canine customers, Rincon realized that this place was the dog equivalent of "Cheers" and that he wanted us to become regulars. When we left, we were both carrying purchases. Rincon had a blue stuffed octopus that squeaks, and I had a "Yellow Dog Club" cap.

Yes, Sandy Simpson knows about empowering ways to deal with cancer.

Sandy will be contributing an object to The Heart of Healing sculpture soon. I can hardly wait to see what it is. I'll post it on the Objects page for you when I get it.

Rincon and I encourage you to visit My Dog Bakery and to support this courageous cancer survivor - no, cancer thriver! - by sending your friends there, too. Tell Sandy and Dude "Hi" from us.

My Dog Bakery
208 Davis Street
(Near Railroad Square between 3rd and 4th Streets)
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 578-PAWS (Ask to be on the e-mail list or postal mailing list so Sandy can notify you of special events and alert you when the website goes up.)

Dude: inspiration to Sandy, loves walks.   Rincon: happy customer, likes to go "where everybody knows your name."

E-mail Martia!


Why do we need The Heart of Healing?

Lately I've been reading that one in three people will get cancer during their lifetime. That's one-third of all people. One third of the people that you and I know.

What's your reaction to that statistic?

Yeah, it scares me, too.

If you're saying, "No, fear isn't my first reaction. I don't believe that statistic. I just don't believe it," my guess is that the thing that makes you go instantly to doubting the statistic, rather than being curious about it, is fear. It is too scary to believe. Too scary to imagine.

I don't really know what the statistic is for sure. One in three is just the one I've been reading. I hope it's really lower, and I like to imagine that whatever it is now, it will improve in the future.

But the fear that the one-in-three statistic incites is important, because that fear is affecting our culture in a negative way: It is keeping us from dealing with cancer as well as we could.

Our culture has conditioned us to react to cancer with terror or denial. Both are extreme variations of fear. Terror tells us, "Cancer is a death sentence," while denial says, "It can't happen to me," or "It can't happen to _________ (insert the name of a loved one)." Some of us tend toward one end of the fear spectrum more than the other, while others of us bounce back and forth between the two. When we are at either end we are so busy coping that we don't think in empowering ways.

It takes energy to think in empowering ways, and we have to be creative - we have to think outside the box - because our culture does not yet give us enough examples of empowering ways to deal with cancer. That's where The Heart of Healing comes in.

The Heart of Healing will give us HUNDREDS of empowering examples for dealing with cancer. These empowering examples will become part of the new cultural conditioning - a more empowering conditioning - for how to respond to cancer.

E-mail Martia!

Jumping In.

This is my first blog ever. I'm jumping right in without being sure how to do it. But I imagine I'll get the hang of it. Drop me a line, and let me know if there's something you'd like me to talk about.

My idea is that I'll give you a behind-the-scenes view of The Heart of Healing public sculpture project throughout its creation process. I'll talk about the obvious things: what The Heart of Healing is, why it's needed, the people participating, the assembly process, challenges we meet, miracles that occur, and so on. Plus the ideas you give me.

But who knows? I could end up in territory I never envisioned. Everything about this project is creative, which means unpredictable. Creativity is by nature one surprise after another. When a project is truly creative, there's no telling where it will take us.

Starting The Heart of Healing sculpture project is exciting. It's the beginning of something big, full of potential, bound to touch a huge number of people. And this sculpture is something that our culture desperately needs.

E-mail Martia!

Sculpture Progress Page |  See the Objects |  Top

The Heart of Healing public sculpture | Dancing with the Phoenix art show | Healing through Painting | Events
Media | Support Arts for Healing | Our Supporters | Remarks | Mission | Contact Us | Home
Web Site design and maintenance by Goodenough Web Site Services
Copyright © 2004-2008 Arts for Healing - All Rights Reserved

[an error occurred while processing this directive]