Art as 'love medicine'

Locals contribute creativity to Healing Ceilings project
Oct. 01, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

While artwork can convey a variety of emotions, one local artist said she hopes her paintings instill at least one thing: a sense of healing.

Monica L. Gavin is one of the many local artists who've contributed to Raleigh-based Healing Ceilings, which distributes the ceiling tiles to local artists, retrieves them after they've been painted and helps install the tiles into chemotherapy rooms at cancer treatment centers in North Carolina. The group made its first tile delivery in May and, according to its Facebook page, "cancer patients, caretakers, nurses [and] doctors smile, laugh, sing, dream, float away to happy thoughts as they visually drink in the healing love flowing from the art on the ceiling tiles."

"I've decided now to focus on my art," she said. "It's pretty diverse, and I like to paint acrylic water colors and do glass mosaics."

Gavin, who has lived in Sanford for a handful of years and worked as a clothing designer in Hawaii previously, has contributed nine painted tiles to the organization's collection of 300. She finished her ninth tile on Sunday and said the organization hits close to home because she has two brothers who've battled cancer.

"Any way you can support people feeling a lot of pain, you should," she said. "For me, I want to take them somewhere else where they don't have to think about the pain they are in." 

Art should be an inspiration, Gavin said, adding that she hopes her six-part space-themed and three-part underwater/mermaid scene do so for cancer patients. 

Amy Jo Edwards, the organization's founder, began her work after spending time with her husband, Bill McConley, during his chemotherapy treatment.

"These tiles have the added benefit because so many of these artists are cancer survivors or undergoing treatment," Edwards said. "It has been transformational to them, too.

Several local artists have contributed to the organization, she said, adding that she uses the Carolina Artists' Colony as an artist hub for this area.

Edwards said the ultimate intent is to cover every cancer patient center in the state with local artwork to help with the healing process.

Jeff Christian, a Pittsboro artist, is in the process of painting his two tiles for Healing Ceilings and discovered the group through the North Carolina Wildlife Artist Society.

"I've have people in my family who had cancer before, so I feel like I can relate," he said. "Anything I can do to make people feel better in a trying time, I am glad to do it."