Nurses are often referred to as the “burden-bearers.” No one understood this better than Ann, a nurse still reeling from widowhood and a string of deaths in her family. To let the healing begin, Ann and I set about creating a type of “anecdotal theatre.” In her choice of a sacred space, the dearly departed would come together to remind Ann of her inheritance. These “gifts” ranged from the gift of silence, to the gift of silliness. Perhaps the most uncanny part of the project was the transformative effect of coincidence; a direct result of the artist’s intuition about place, personality and meaning. Ann writes:
“The Boundary waters scene is beautiful, just perfect. It’s a great shot. But my daughter noticed right away that it looked like Insula – the exact spot where we camped with my husband Steve, and the place where he wanted half his ashes scattered in Boundary Waters.”
On another occasion, Ann observed:
“Really insightful that you gave Jean a gift with a buck on it because the act of seeing the buck (which has happened as you know on several occasions) I always considered a gift.”
Ann now has eleven of her dearest friends and family on call, day or night, in an 8×10 photomontage portrait.
Further reading: “Positive Visualization: Photomontage Helps Individuals Cope with Grief” by Rachel Christophe Baker, Director of Cultural and Educational Development, Hektoen Institute of Medicine (Advance for Nurses, June 2009)