The 75 prints that comprise the original installation of InFlight for a solo exhibit of my work in Cologne, Germany were digitally manipulated photographs printed and embellished with charcoal drawing. Thousands of fiber-optic light points were threaded through the drawings creating pixels of light along the wings and tail feathers of the bird images. Each print is 21”H x 21”W x 1.5”D. The work has been exhibited in numerous configurations since the original installation in 2011. Sponsored by MultiArt International, exhibition at Gallery 68, Cologne.

Art and Healing

During this month-long exhibition, we witnessed many viewers sit down in the gallery for up to three hours and return multiple times to do the same. They did not want to talk to each other, or the curator; they just wanted to be there, sitting quietly with the work. This is not a typical response; the average amount of time viewers spend in front of a piece of artwork is 30 seconds. The calming effect on the audience was unexpected, and I spent the next year researching to find a reason. Visiting museums and hospitals, talking to doctors and art historians, and digging through research databases, I found much research that supports the use of nature-based imagery for healing. What I intuitively knew about art and how we drawn to particular visual images, patterns, colors, and proportions, we now know scientifically. My choice of images and patterns that calm and heal, previously not really knowing why, just knowing that it felt right to me turns out that these images do in fact calm and aid in healing

We then looked at the specification of the LEDs we were using to illuminate the fiber optics. When we had originally installed the LEDs we were only looking for the brightest lumen output we could find. What we found was that the LEDs we used were the same blue wavelength used in many studies focusing on healing. Although the exposure is at a much lower level than most Light Therapy, there is research that supports the benefits of lower doses of Light Therapy as exhibiting positive results as well. These findings support the effect of “calming’ that we witnessed during the solo exhibit in Cologne, resulting in an overall positive physiological reaction to the light wavelength exposure.

These findings would influence my work with nature-based imagery merged with lighting, and my interest in placing this work in public settings where stress reduction may be beneficial.