Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

What You Have in Common with Michelangelo

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!

When I give  talks on art and healing I am often approached by people who tell me they aren’t artists.  They explain as I used to that their stick figures even look a bit deformed.  They questions their artistic ability but fortunately still hold on to the realm of possibility about their creativity.  I’m always excited when people believe in their creativity because aside from great art it’s also a key ingredient in good decision-making, but back to art and healing.

I completely understand the hesitation when it comes to creating art.  I was a traditional quilter for many years until I had a glorious opportunity that changed my life.  The local quilt shop was having a one year color class for quilters.  Every month we would discuss a particular aspect of color theory and then we’d have to create a piece that represented that aspect of color theory.  I always felt that my use of color was good, but I wanted to use it as an exercise in design.  I made a pact with myself and before others that I wouldn’t use a pattern any more; every month I would create my own design…and that was the start of my art adventure.

So what about you and Michelangelo?  When you read account of Michelangelo creating the sculpture “David” he was quite modest about his accomplishment.  He would explain that the sculpture was already in the block of marble and all he did was remove the excess from the block to reveal the glorious piece.  What if we all approached our creative/artistic sides with that sense of modesty?  What if every piece we wanted to create was already created within us or within the item your using to express your creative idea?  It would be like me saying that the piece of textile art is already in the fabric and all I’m doing is placing the pieces where they know they should go.  It creates a beautiful work of art and takes some of the pressure off of having to be “the master” artist.

What if your life were the same as Michelangelo’s “David”.  I’ve studies with one of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st century, Jean Houston.  When she teaches her Social Artistry program she discusses “entelechy”.  The idea that within is everything you’re supposed to be.  The example she gives is an acorn.  An acorn has everything it needs within the shell to become an oak.  It has all of nature’s mapping to become something glorious and mighty.  Your were created with the same possibility. 

You’ve had experiences that allow you to create masterful pieces of art.  It doesn’t have to be something that would hang in a museum; it could be a dish you’ve created to cook.  It can be a song or an interpretation of a song that fills your heart with joy.  It can be what starts off as tapping your foot and becomes a movement that allows the body to express itself fully.

Why is it important that we unveil our creative expression?  If we don’t express ourselves we end up keeping things bottled up and that’s not good for our immune system.  The more we express ourselves the greater the opportunity has to utilize its energy to focus on health and healing.   Your ability to express yourself creatively is no different from the drain the surgeon places in a wound following surgery to allow what isn’t need to flow out of the body.  We’re talking about a different type of drain, one a lot less painful, more joyful, and equally productive. 

I hope you’ll give yourself the gift of unearthing what lies within just as Michelangelo did with “David”.  I believe this will be the start of a deeper journey to health and healing.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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