A swift search* on Google and now I know that #GivingTuesday was created in 2012 by New York's 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. Silly me, I expected to find an ecumenical, if not interfaith, coalition behind this much-needed corrective to the rampant consumerism of December.
Sadly, not. And much as I'd love to rant about the sorrowful mystery of it all, I'm skipping directly to highlighting the organization that's receiving my charitable contribution: The Walking Gallery Center for Arts and Healing. It's not yet fully funded (see below) but I'm hoping artist and healthcare activist Regina Holliday (@ReginaHolliday) receives the financial support she needs to move this project forward.
Last week, Regina posted these top ten reasons for establishing The Walking Gallery Center in Grantsville, MD. Of those ten reasons, these three resonated the most:
#8 Children need to see the arts as highly valued in our society.Here, I'll reprise in a bit more detail what I mentioned in my comment on Regina's blog: I'm someone for whom the arts provided a much-needed refuge during childhood and adolescence.
#7 We need a culture of healing in healthcare and not just a sickness model
#2 Some of us need a safe place to go.
I started taking art and music lessons when I was seven years old. By 7th grade, I'd become one of the kids who found safe shelter in the art and music practice rooms, who received essential nurturing from art and music teachers.
My high school art teacher advised going to a liberal arts college with a good art department, rather than an art school with iffy liberal arts. I didn’t have the grades for the former, so attended the latter. I withdrew from the art department during my sophomore year. More accurately, I had a major meltdown that involved shoving everything into my art locker and leaving.
I explored other majors. Dropped out of college for a bit. Worked in design studios, then stopped all of it -- drawing, painting, music -- for well over a decade. I did eventually find sanctuary in Sociology, an academic discipline that because of its emphasis on seeing and interpreting the world seems to attract refugees from the creative arts.
Looking back, I think it's absolutely no coincidence that my physical and emotional health declined significantly after I stopped creating art and making music. And it would take nearly 18 years before I connected those dots. Not that I hadn't glimpsed that truth much earlier. For two years during graduate school I was in psychoanalysis three times a week.
There’s not a whole lot I remember from that period of my life, but I do remember the cognitive and visceral burst of recognition when my analyst observed the salvific power of art. “The artwork you did as a child probably kept you alive,” she said.
Later, I would do more psychospiritual spelunking about when and why writing replaced artwork as my preferred medium of expression. Would you be surprised to learn that an icon painting workshop ended up being where I finally felt safe enough to pick up a paintbrush? More than a decade after that first icon workshop plus years of music ministry and I'm still in the throes of integrating writing, art, and music from a place of health and healing. I suspect this will be an ongoing process -- and project -- for the rest of my corporeal life. Lord, have mercy.
And that, somewhat briefly, explains why I know The Walking Gallery for Arts and Healing will make an important difference in the lives of all who participate in this "creative placemaking." It's also why I'm asking readers to contribute something...anything...to help The Walking Gallery Center for Arts and Healing get started.
Watch the video below to learn more or click MedStartr to make a contribution.