July 06, 2020
This blog was published in the Conroe Currier newspaper as letter to the editor on June 10th 2020
We as a society must put an end to racial injustice war.
With the events of the last 2 weeks I have been challenged to really look inside myself. I sat, read and listened so that I could learn and grow. As a white person I cannot imagine what it was like growing up with such prejudice and fear. The challenge is to realize there is so much we take for granted and to learn to appreciate and treat all minorities as equals.
Having worked thru life for 67 years, I offer that I have never seen the country unite over the racial prejudices in such a unified way. Unless we can acknowledge the problem, it will never change. The lights are finally on but they need to stay on and not dim. As I look at racial bias I see that perhaps now we now have had the stimulus to all work together and to end a horrible problem.
I spent yesterday with my Dad who is 94. We watched the CBS Sunday morning show together. There was a segment on the dropping of the atom bomb that for me was a similar feeling of loss and horror to so many. I asked my dad what it was like to be living in a time when this happened and if there were any similarities to what was occuring now, and with the protests. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/countdown-1945-the-story-of-the-first-use-of-the-atomic-bomb/ He said every American during the war was empowered to work together and to save the string, tin and many things were rationed. When the war ended, (he was in the navy at the time) he felt profoundly sad about the profound loss of life, but relieved that the pain of war was going to end and he could return home. Unfortunately so many perished. Think about how we treated American Japanese citizens in detention camps during the war. Fear is a powerful motivator that unchecked is profoundly dangerous. This racial war must also end.
What I took away from this discussion was that there have been times in America where our country has acted together for a common cause... to end the war. But in also equally horrible ways. Ending the war came at an extreme cost to so many. The unfortunate thing is how many minorities have had to lose their lives for people to wake up and acknowledge the issue of racial prejudice. Not only blacks but all minorities.
I also listened to Michelle Obama give a speech to graduates yesterday and it was touching and beautiful on many of the same racial issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXDTmAYsFxQ She stated that this racial bias issue has so many layers and complexities. I encourage you to listen to it as well. This is such a horrific problem that will take all the excellent minds in our county working together for change. I am so glad the lights in the room are currently brightly glowing. We need to keep them on and not lose momentum. The same things have happened with gun violence. After a tragedy we all scream but the voices dim with time and nothing changes. We need this to end and we need change.
There must be equal access to health care, education and laws. It has taken far too long as a society to wake up to these injustices. We must challenge ourselves to live together as equal humans with the same rights,respect and treatment under the law. I totally support the peaceful protests of so many and hear and feel the emotional pain and suffering. I accept the need to learn, change and grow as a person. I hope as a society we can also end the racial injustice war, and make the necessary changes to find peace.
Al Heilman MD
June 08, 2020
Beautifully stated, Al. There is such potential And synergy in a united citizenry. Hopefully the collective wisdom and heart of our country will help us move beyond these dark days to a new normal where all lives are honored. We can keep the light burning in the small actions we take, day in and day out. Thanks for the inspiration!
July 06, 2020
July 06, 2020
I am an artist who practiced spine surgery for many years. The serenity of nature inspires me, and I seek to express a healing presence and tranquility in my art. My work communicates a feeling of peace, harmony and a profound respect for nature and humanity. I use of color, and light to create a visceral response.
I also use my artistic voice to explore the social issues we face as humans and as a society. My works relate to the recognition and acceptance of the many wounds that have been present in our society for far too long. We all need to work together so that we all have equal access to the law, education and healthcare no matter what our race or color.
Defined by time and skill, my artistic practice demands intense patience and attention to detail. The magical pieces in glass and enamel, glow with fabulous color and depth, indicating a lengthy and intricate process, not evident by the casual viewer. When enameling, utilizing a metal substrate of gold, silver, or copper provides a foundation for the piece. Once fabricated, I apply enamel powders to the metal, then fire them at around 1300 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures allow the enamel to melt until it is smooth. After they cool, I finish the pieces using diamond wet saws and flat grinders in the cold working process.
Producing my glass vessels requires the use of glass sheets, as well as, glass powders therefore, the glass provides both, the support for the piece and the decorative color. Fusing these materials can take from 24 hours up to 5 days. Some pieces demand many different fusing/cold-working steps. The more colors or different types of glass used in the piece; the more steps involved in creating the final product. My work can be very complex depending on the different colors, textures and glass powders used. I try to make this extremely laborious processes appear seamless in the end.
My journey to the world of art came late in my life, in fact, I always believed that healing was my natural calling. When I was younger, I went to pharmacy school, then, to medical school where I learned to hone my healing abilities. This led to a twenty-five-year career as an orthopedic spine surgeon where I helped many people with broken and injured spines, stand up straight and regain function.
But, like the body with a bad back, life never follows a straight line. After a strenuous medical issue of my own, I found myself challenged to develop a new paradigm for life. I chose art as my new vehicle for my emotional and spiritual healing practice. Now my true passion, on my best days, it provides nirvana, peace and ecstasy. On bad days, a meditative internal mind therapy. Problems and roadblocks stimulate my creativity as I explore color, form, texture and light. I now have a new mechanism for healing through art. Not only have I healed my own body and soul, but hopefully, inspire the healing power in others through my art.