My art crashed in 4th grade when I collided with a teacher who said I was drawing my favorite tree "the wrong way." It put my imagination on hold. After that, for many years, my only art was paint by numbers, so I could be sure to "get it right."
I did the "sensible" thing - focused on school and got on with my life when I graduated from university. I built a career that culminated in being in charge of training for 30,000 employees worldwide.
Then, just before I turned 40, I had two strokes. Instead of climbing the corporate ladder, my daily job was learning to walk and talk again. Art helped me heal.
At first I was reluctant to share the story about my health crisis. I thought that people might think I was not up to the work I do. But when artists shared a story about challenges they faced, I discovered that telling them mine became a bond that built trust and brought us closer.
Posting my video opened up a wonderful connection and conversation with Renée Phillips. We realized that we have been on a parallel path in supporting visual artists and in our belief that art heals.
In 1983 Renée established Manhattan Arts International magazine with fellow arts advocates in order to give exposure to under-recognized artists. Simultaneously she organized and hosted art leaders, government officials and celebrities at multi-media art events throughout NYC. The Manhattan Arts International website launched in 1999 with a juried online gallery with thematic exhibitions and a mission to help visual artists achieve their highest potential through art advisory services and promotion.
Our conversations about art and healing inspired me to become part of a group of colleagues supporting Renée's annual event "Celebrate The Healing Power of Art"- an online exhibition from May 17 - July 17, 2014.
How did the "Celebrate The Healing Power of Art" evolve?
I've curated and co-juried more than 60 exhibitions in New York galleries and alternative spaces. When I co-juried the highly recognized "Redefining Visionary Art" exhibition with Suzi Gablik, Ann McCoy and other prominent artists in 1989, I became aware of the enormous healing impact art has on artists and viewers.
This event led to my interest in researching the subject, delivering talks, and writing articles about artists who use art as a healing modality, to promote these artists and bring awareness to the significance visual art has on individuals, society, and our planet.
How will you select the artists for "Celebrate The Healing Power of Art" 2014?
I have the pleasure of serving as co-juror with Lilly Wei, a New York-based art critic, writer and independent curator whose focus is contemporary art. Wei contributes to many publications in the U.S. and internationally and has written for Art in America since 1984. She is a contributing editor at ARTnews and a former contributing editor at Art Asia Pacific and frequently reports on international biennials and exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and Documenta.
We are seeking U.S. and international artists working in all 2-D and 3-D mediums. Fifty artists will be selected based on: how well their art expresses the theme; creative originality and innovation; technical merit; quality of the jpegs submitted; and their 40-word artist's statement.
How will you promote this exhibition?
Our publicity campaign includes promotion via email news that goes to more than 40,000 total monthly subscribers and followers. Our combined reach in social media platforms exceeds 990,000 and is growing daily. We have the support of many art professionals and bloggers who share our vision and spread the word. We also maintain three blogs including the Manhattan Arts International Celebrate The Healing Power of art blog, where you can read Aletta's story.
Artists have until midnight, May 4, 2014 to submit an entry.
P.S. I do not benefit financially from promoting this event but I am offering an award to one artist and a surprise for everyone who enters.
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