The Healing Hands of Art: Inside the Artist’s Studio

ben wheeler

Inside the Artist’s Studio: The Healing Hands of Art

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso.

This quote from famed artist, Pablo Picasso, alludes to the intrinsic value of art. Tyler Junior College (TJC) is embracing in the idea, with a new rotating art exhibit,“The Beauty of Art and Medicine.” With the belief that art has a direct connection to health, TJC invites guests to enjoy the talents of local East Texas artists, displayed on the Vernon & Amy Faulconer floor of the Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Building on the TJC main campus. From recent studies, art used as medicine can increase positive emotions, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve positive identity and medical outcomes.

“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” – John Lubbock.

Artworks featured in the exhibition show a variety of approaches and help introduce some local artists to the spotlight. The exhibition is in collaboration with the Tyler Museum of Art, and has been thoughtfully installed by Derek Frazier. Selections in this inaugural exhibit include David Ackerson’s colorful blast acrylic painting “Post Tenebrus Lux,” Heather Crane’s collage titled “Old School,” and a mother-daughter collaborative named “Wisdom + Dreams,” by Cathy Krafve and Anna Krafve Pierce. The diptych (two panels) acrylic painting depicts the organic, half shapes of a flower and a butterfly resounding the connection between the subjects through the use of positive and negative space. Other works include Gaylon Dingler’s spontaneous, visually tactile, paper-mâché and acrylic, relief  sculptures “Moon Water” and “Red Hot.” The remaining artists showcased are: Dana W. Adams, Mike Bayham, Don Bristow, Doug Carter, Terry Fowler, Philipp Fürhofer, Kyle Ischy, Brian Stone, Ellie Taylor, Elaine Vorster, David Wallace, and Derrick White.

Pieces in the exhibition are available for purchase through collaboration with Valerosa Designs and Gallery.

Come take a stroll through this beautiful building and enrich your eyes and soul through your experience with the art while it is on display. “The arts empower. The arts help transform communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be,” states Robert L. Lynch, President, Americans for the Arts.

I believe there are also health benefits to collecting and living with handcrafted, unique art and not with mass produced, machine milled decorations from corporate, big box craft stores. When surrounding oneself with original art, it ultimately improves the quality of life. Owning original art can make you happy and give you positive feelings, as well as satisfaction in having something matchless and singular of which no other duplicate exist anywhere else in the entire world. Art can enhance the space in which it is displayed and make for a more aesthetic environment. The art you collect and display can be a healthy expression of your own individuality. Art reduces stress by increasing relaxation, gratification, and tranquility. I get fulfillment from visiting friends and collectors and seeing my art hanging on their walls and knowing my creations found a good home. Collectors often point out elements in the composition they have discovered, from years of living with the artwork, which I never intended. Art offers opportunities for social interaction reducing isolation and makes community spaces more aesthetic and interactive. Art is a great conversation piece. Buying local art helps the members of your own community.

I know that the art we have in our home is some of the most important objects we have for poignant, sentimental, and artistic reasons. My family and I are surrounded daily by art which feeds creativity, invokes fond memories, and constantly surprises us and there is no other home in the world with the same or even a similar interior look. A few selections of our growing art collection include a Randy Brodnax ceramic pot created in his signature style and beautifully formed and glazed. Brodnax was the community college art professor who changed my life. I found inspiration in his art appreciation class and decided to pursue a career in art. He was the first adult I met who loved what he did for a living and my goal became to mimic his way of life. We have several ceramic vases, mugs, and platters from Jake Allee, a friend, former colleague, and amazingly prolific creator. A colorful and exquisite painting by Barbara Holland complements our living room. I first met Barbara in 1992 when she and I both received awards at an exhibition. She placed second and I got third. Years later, while applying for a teaching position at TJC, I learned they hired Barbara Holland instead of me. Good choice but I thought “who is this short, British woman who keeps beating me at everything?” Things worked out and I landed the job a year later and fortunately had the pleasure of working with Barbara for eight years before she retired. Other artists in our collection are Mason Buchanan, Sean Cagle, Brianna Clark, Amber Draschil, Justin Edwards, Christie Funk, Dave Funk, Charles and John Hancock, Daniel Hays, Paul Jones, Cacy Legnion, Philana Oliphant, Jim Pace, Heather Rey, Chris Stewart, Josh Tamez, Kelsey White, and Gregory Zeorlin with recent acquisitions by Willow Lanchester and Erick Rodriguez. Each and every one of these artists’ creations means something significant. Their art enhances our life, makes us think, appreciate and feel a stronger connection to the human condition. Having these art pieces and these people in my life adds to my health, mental wellness and warms my heart. Oh, I almost forgot, we also have the largest collection of original Derrick White paintings in the entire world.

Don’t hesitate to stop by the gallery at 108 E. Eighth Street, Tyler, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays 10am-3pm.

For more information call Valerosa Gallery at (903)504-5249 or email,

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