Art as a Bridge to Healing

by Carolyn Edlund

Terri Albanese used her art to help others express gratitude to frontline workers during the pandemic.

 

Artist Terri Albanese with a glass painting of sunflowers

Artist Terri Albanese with her glass painting “Light in Bloom”

 

Terri Albanese has always believed in the healing power of art. Her glass paintings, often inspired by floral images, are found in healthcare settings where they provide a visual escape from suffering and stress. She has witnessed firsthand the nurses, aides, and families of patients who view her work. They often pause, lost in the art as it touches them deeply.

A little over a year ago, she supervised the installation of a glass painting of sunflowers in the gallery at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University. Although the gallery was closed at the time, a woman walked in with a cane in her hand. She stood in front of the art as she was introduced to Terri. The woman explained that this was the first time she had walked in nearly two years. She had come directly into the gallery on that first walk, and the experience of the painting had made her weep. She said, “Your work is tearfully beautiful.”

Art as a Bridge

By the winter of 2020, Terri undertook a challenge to create a piece of glass art based on Aesop’s fable The Rose and the Amaranth. Considering designs for the project, she chose a white tulip to symbolize Spring, Hope and Forgiveness.

 

Floral glass art by Terri Albanese

“Interwoven” glass painting, 37.5″ x 29″ by Terri Albanese

 

She recalls, “I looked at these bridges – the bridge between winter and summer (spring), and the bridge between darkness and light (hope). This inspired me to design a piece of glass art titled Interwoven. But while I was creating it, COVID-19 was hitting hard. We had loved ones being cared for by healthcare workers who could not even care for their own families. They were holding our family members’ hands when we couldn’t be there. To me, they were the bridge between this dark pandemic and healing. I felt that since I truly believed in the underlying power of art to heal, I wanted to do something to serve the community.”

Terri came up with Cards of Hope as a thank-you to healthcare and frontline workers who have given so much to fight the pandemic. Each card features the Interwoven design on the front with the words “You are the bridge. Thank you for all you are giving.” On the back is a message recognizing the recipient as a shining light of hope during a difficult time.

 

Cards of Hope to thank healthcare workers during COVID

Each Card of Hope shares the Interwoven image and a message of thanks

 

Shared Gratitude

Terri reached out to a couple of local hospitals to see if they would be interested in the cards. They were. She sent an email campaign, offering packs of ten cards (at no charge) to people who wanted to send messages of hope and thanks to frontline workers.

The enormous response to her offer has resulted in more than 30,000 cards being printed and shipped to hospitals and individuals. Cards have been sent to nursing homes and VA clinics, priests and pastors, police and firefighters. They were a perfect vehicle for people to show gratitude to anyone working on the frontline, not only healthcare workers.

The artist’s selfless purpose was solely to help others give thanks. “I know that if I do something that comes from my heart, I have to be all in,” she said. “When I was thinking of this project, I focused on the healing power of art. I came up with a way to say thank you and to remind people of all we have been given; that their work has not gone unseen or unfelt.”

 

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