HERHYMNS SERIES 2013
HERHYMNS: BE BRAVE 2013.
Please click and read: https://catherineljohnson.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/the-writings-herhymns-be-brave-lullaby-i-thou-poem-a-lullaby-for-a-lover-catherine-l-johnson-interdisciplinary-artist-humanly-possible-the-empathy-exhibition-instinct-art/
This work was in INSTINCT Art Gallery's curated exhibition titled HUMANLY POSSIBLE: THE EMPATHY EXHIBITION
21 November 2015 - 16 January 2016.
My work will be prominently displayed. The HER HYMNS series were created with an inscribed text/drawing filled with fiery red paint onto a sky/background of deep navy/black.
There is mica dispersed throughout, so the mica sparks like skies in the night sky. The work becomes dynamic as the viewer moves and attends.
HER HYMNS: BE BRAVE:
I would sing/hum to the infants and children who were crying, alone, in their institutional beds in the nursery of the Shriners Hospital for “Crippled” Children.
I lived there from 6 months to 3 years old.
I was in a body cast face down.
Relatives of the child had restricted VISITATION: only ONE relative, once a week for two hours - NO touching your child. My Mother told me of the children reaching out their arms for touch. Many of the children were from farms, and visitation would all depend on the agricultural cycles and demands.
A crying child would be given Demerol, a heavy sedative, to shut them down. When one child cris aloud, a chorus of empathetic cries would sound. We could not touch each other. We listened to each other. Our antennas were honed.
Demerol would steal away our experience, our expression, our presence...and, place us in a disassociated netherland.
Frightening terror. Despairing lament. Helplessness.
We were not offered the comfort of human presence and touch.
Institutional cribs were lined up in rows in one large room.
In my body cast, I would tap out my tears of pain and/or fear. I would sing to myself and, in time, I sang aloud to the children to comfort them as well as myself.
I see the painting as sky writing- large and vast!
Fiery etched lines that ALL could see. The mica in the painting were like glistening stars in the deep night. All so beautiful. We were not alone!
The infants, toddlers, children would either be positioned in their metal cribs to look at their mattress or see the ceiling.
At night, the cries or shrieks or moans of pain, desolation and/or grief would fill the room like a flood of sound.
My body was set into a body cast and crying would stop my breathing.
I discovered I could tap out my tears, rhythmically.
Suddenly, I thought to sing aloud to the infants and children fastened inside their cribs.
Slowly, I would sing to the children whose moans, shrieks and crying was hidden in darkness.
Slowly, the room would become quiet and the comforting sound of breathing, a choir, would eclipse the horror of singular shrieks, cries and moans.
The ancient wisdom of children. Trauma opens up resources. The imagination is oceanic and was my Earth.
Music is a healing balm.
The voice, the human voice, the breath, relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system.
Singing is a balm to distressed…
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