How Art Heals 2 by Jain Fairfax

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”   Mark Twain

As I read the words of Mark Twain, I realized art, in its many forms, can also be the friend  who cares; the friend we can turn to either in our own minds or the minds and hearts of other artists.

We have all experienced change in the last few months. We have felt

ourselves tested. Some of us have had our lives radically altered, and all

of us are dealing with the fires’ outcome. Art reaches out in a powerful

way to express what change does to one. Looking back at the landscapes we

have enjoyed, we can remember a peace we may not have fully appreciated.

By painting it out, letting others see a place and a time we loved or were

impacted by fills some of the longing for what is lost.

It has been over 7 months since the October wildfires ravaged Northern

California, but many of us still jump at the sound of sirens

they howled

day and night during the days of the fires. We smell oak leaves burning,

and instead of enjoying the scent as we used to, we shudder and are

momentarily back in the thick haze of October 2017. The sky becomes red,

the air is unbreathable, our hearts race. Our healing is not complete. We

still need the “friend who cares”.

But healing is not done like a slide downhill to the green grass at the

bottom.  It is done in small, uneven steps. Some are slower and more

difficult than others. It is not an easy path, but some of the steps are

being taken. And although there are many internet pages on what areas are

cleared to build on, where houses and businesses are being planned, how to

get through the maze of organizations, government offices, attorneys, and

inspectors, the process leaves those who have lost everything frustrated,

impatient, angry, and feeling hopeless. They wonder if they will ever

again have a place to call home. And it leaves the onlookers who hurt for

them wondering how to help.

That is when we, as artists, can be the “friend” who stays and cares.

First, our art helps our own spirit begin to recover from the pain we have

all experienced, then, as we gain strength, hope, and relief, we can

express our understanding to others who badly need a moment or two of

understanding, connection, and support.

I believe, we as artists, reach out with images, with feelings and with

sensations that help us overcome challenges. The viewer sees the emotional

impact, the growth or change, and both can be healed.

Jain Pollock Fairfax