Activity 36: Research Project - Art and Healing

Does art have healing strengths? Around the medieval times it was believed that certain pieces of art held a special healing power. One of such paintings was the Isenheimer Altar. It was painted by Grunewald and now stands in the museum Unterlinden in Colmar, France.

  

The altar consists of 3 panels, the first being the crucifixion. This was the panel which was on display at the hospital of the Monastery of St Anthony in Isenheim, for people who were bed bound due to a disease known as St Anthony’s fire. The alter piece is huge, overwhelming and the crucifix is intense to say the least. The piece can be interpreted in many ways to help cope with the pain.

The announcement, the birth and resurrection of Jesus is one of the panels which was only shown at certain times of the year - like Easter. It was much more appealing and comforting, allowing the bed bound patients to be exposed to nurture, beauty and faith.

 

As part of my study, a small group of students went to the altar to research the benefits it may hold or held. In order to understand the benefits, we drew, sculpted or painted the panels in different settings. This is a very interesting and engaging way of working with art and the healing aspects of it.

Your Challenge:

Could you find a piece of art (sculpture, drama piece, a book, a drawing or a tapestry to name a few) and try to find out why it appeals to you?

How does it make you feel?

What is the quality of the art piece that makes you feel like that?

If you copy the art through a different medium, will it lose its essence?

Colorful Pattern

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