Ellis Island: A Poem for Guitar

Ellis Island

I spent an afternoon on Ellis Island a few years ago and was deeply moved by the experience.  Millions of individuals arrived and were processed on the nearly 28 acre island between 1892 and 1954, each with a unique circumstance and history.  Truly astounding when you think about the scope of it.
The Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation has a free searchable online database that you might find interesting and informative.   More remarkable is a visit to the Island.   It certainly changed my perception and attitude about feeling inconvenienced by travel delays.  Chances are, I’m going to arrive at my destination alive (many people died en-route to America) and it isn’t going to take me a month or more to get there.  Think about that the next time you feel yourself getting annoyed because your train is late, or you are stuck in traffic.

An untitled poem that I wrote in 2001 was penned as part of a writing exercise for a dream workshop I had taken at Middlebury College.   Our task was to piece something together from the collective sharing of words and phrases that we derived from the dream recitations of class participants.   I didn’t know what the poem was about or that it had a title until I stepped through the doors of the Great Hall that day in March of 2009.

Ellis Island 

© 2001 Theresa Funk

There were photographs in black and white,
and fingerprints.

Lines infused with a memory,
and I am skating through a strangers dream.

Sixteen lines,
half of them are disconnected.
But a theme was tied by the threads
of celluloid on paper.

I see you standing in a drove of noiseless people.

You are waiting on a line while
on the other side,
my skate-shoes glide.


The Healing Power of Art

The Foundation for Art and Healing is an organization that was founded to  perpetuate general awareness about the healing power of art.   Ongoing research about how engagement with the creative processes impacts the likelihood of recovery from disease and traumatic events is compelling, and the Foundation’s aim is to convey the knowledge about the relationship between art and healing and provide active and ongoing support to communities and individuals.

Whether it is expressive writing, music, movement or visual arts, all share the ability to change people’s perspectives, moods, and overall health.   In 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote about the effect of “beautiful objects” on sickness and recovery. “Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect.”  Creating art stimulates our neurology, and that stimulation makes us feel good.

The healing power of art was evident to me long before the concept was popularized.  My self-directed art education and healing practice started at the age of six when, out of a need to find refuge from the bouts of domestic violence that occurred in our home, I would hide in a closet with paper, pencils, and crayons to create art.

Today, watercolor, pencil, and charcoal are the primary medium that I work with to create contemporary landscape images on paper.  I am inspired by the scenery of places that I’ve actually visited, or photographs of places or objects that elicit an emotional response. That spark of emotion is what starts the authentic creative process for me and also influences the colors that I select for each of my paintings.

Addison County

October Hillside – 11″x 13″ watercolor on mixed media paper. © 2013 Theresa Funk