AL Heilman Art
July 06, 2020
Our bodies (Vessels) are designed to be strong, but they also can become very fragile and injured.
They are beautifully built and are designed in so many fantastic shapes and colors.
Then life happens, and we suddenly experience how difficult it is to rebuild them.
I designed this vessel to heal following a friends spinal cord injury.
I hope the colors and design of this vessel will encourage us all to take time to celebrate and care for the wonderful vessels we live in.
They are magnificent and yet so fragile.
I used to be a spine surgeon. That is, I used to be a healer of spines. I used my mind and my body to heal the bodies of others, until my own body gave out. I guess it had enough. It had become so overwhelmed with the stress of curing other people of their injuries that I developed a spinal injury myself. I had a couple of back operations that gave me little relief. Acutely aware of the long, agonized journey ahead of me involving numerous drugs and possibly more surgeries, I chose to turn to art as my healer. Instead of putting my faith in the medical system that I had been a part of for so many years, I decided to start by healing my disconnected soul through the creation of art and I have never looked back.
The meditative process of making art mimics that found in nature. Today, technology bombards our senses with constant images and information encouraging us to buy and buy quickly. Our culture demands that we make decisions fast without thinking but taking time out to reflect offers us a peace of mind that we cannot get from the continually increasing pace of life attached to electronics.
Nature offers us a chance to take time out and reflect on the life we have. There is something mysterious in nature’s simplicity. Something we do not know. Plants and animals exist in harmony and we do not know all the reasons why, leaving us in utter amazement for the things we cannot explain. This is beauty, a beauty which an be found in art, also.
There exists a similar mystery to the creation of art. Taking time out to create art without really knowing how it will turn out can bring a similar peace of mind to the artist. You might even say, a sense of healing. Experiencing this meditation restores our purpose for being. Amidst all the busy-ness of life we can find time to create beauty, but the real beauty is not the product itself, but the process of taking the time to create it.
I work with glass, heating it at extreme temperature to fuse different elements into the glass. The process requires tremendous patience and attention to detail. During this process, I do not make quick decisions, but meticulously plan every detail and the irony is, it rarely goes as planned. That is the beauty in it all. The mystery behind it.
The spine, the backbone, gives us the ability to stand up. It is the frame that holds the contents of our bodies. If we lacked spines our organs would be all muddled up with no specific placement and if our spine breaks our bodies experience great pain and tragedy.
Like our spines, glass can break into a million pieces, but also like our bodies, when functioning properly, glass is extremely strong. A glass vessel can hold a tremendous amount of weight. They have been used to carry life granting, but heavy, water to replenish our thirsty bodies, but if dropped can shatter into a thousand pieces in a split second.
This strength and fragility can be seen in the human body, as well. The human body can withstand an enormous amount of abuse when we are young. We can eat all kinds of junk food, but our metabolisms burns it just as fast as we put it in. Later in life, it all catches up to us. The cumulative sum of our physical habits adds up and can cause us problems that went unforeseen in our youth.
Creating glass vessels is like creating a new body. Vessels hold the contents we deposit in them, just as our bodies do. We can put flowers in a vessel, or we can put rocks in it, just as we can put healthy fruits and vegetables in our bodies or cheeseburgers and fries. A glass vessel can only hold so many rocks before it cracks, and our bodies can hold only so many cheeseburgers before we have a heart attack.
Or we can nourish our vessels. When creating glass vessels, we can add elements to create greater beauty than that which already exists such as, different colors to enhance the viewers experience. We can nourish our bodies with healthy, organic food and even add vitamins to give our hair and skin a vibrant glow.
It is through the creation of new vessels that I have learned to heal my soul and subsequently, the vessel that has held it all my life: my body. Art has healed me both, physically and emotionally, and I will never regret my unexpected, new path.
January 16, 2020
such an amazing article thanks for sharing this, you’ll love to see my site sandblasting machine as well.
December 10, 2019
such an amazing article you’ll love to see my site sandblasting machine as well.
November 05, 2019
Thank you. So eloquently written. The fragility of the body often reminds me of the fragility and strength of glass.
You have made a good choise both for yourself and for us/me!
Beautiful art and reflectiones…
July 29, 2019
Truly beautiful, interesting and inspiring—-that applies to both your art and your story blog——Love Ed
Al, your artwork is so impressive and beautiful! I see you in every piece on display here. I’m so glad you are such a creative artist and wish you continued healing on your journey.
July 06, 2020
July 06, 2020
July 06, 2020
One of my first creative steps was when I built a Soap Box Derby car. On my 3rd attempt I won the local Soap Box Derby in DeKalb, Illinois. That qualified me for the national race in Akron, Ohio. That was exciting, even though I lost. But, I learned that you have to pay careful attention to detail. On my first attempt, I had the steering cable wrapped backwards on the steering column and ended up hitting a hay bail at the end of the course!
I loved photography at an early age. As a teenager I built a darkroom. Photography is still is a passion of mine: I photograph daily in my creative process. I went to a university run lab school for Junior High. I used a binary computer with punch tapes as an entry tool…55 years ago. We had a wood and metal shop at the school. In High School I gravitated to the drafting classes and wood and metal shop: Learning to visualize and think in 3 dimensions is a gift from those classes. I have designed and built many homes, including my current lake home/studio. I seriously considered studying architecture in college, but medicine won me over.
I always believed that healing was my natural calling. When I was younger, I went to pharmacy school, then, to medical school. This led to my becoming an orthopedic spine surgeon: Over twenty-five-years, I helped many people, with broken and injured spines, stand up straight and regain function. But, being 6’8”, the years of my bending over an operating room table caught up with my genetic inheritance. Knowing a life’s journey never follows a straight line, my body challenged me to develop a new paradigm once I left the operating room.
I use the sunrises and sunsets as my palette and the changes in nature as my inspiration. This provides me an evocative and healing ethos. I count myself lucky to live my passion. My work communicates a feeling of peace, harmony and a profound respect for nature and humanity.
I also explore the social issues we face as humans and as a society. My work brings attention 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 have equal access to the law, education and healthcare no matter what our race or color. Examples of this work are three pieces: Black Lives Matter, Genes, and SOS: Our Guns or Our Children.
Black Lives Matter
Fused Glass with acrylic on canvas covered wooden panel. 30x30 x3
Fused Glass mounted on a Canvas covered wooden panel, Acrylic. 30x30x3
SOS: Our Guns or Our Children
30 x 30 x 3 Fused glass on canvas covered panel with acrylic and colored pencil.
One of the challenges I face every day is getting to and staying in the creative flow. I am not afraid of failure, experimenting and taking risks. Much of my work goes through an ugly or challenging phase, before the final finishes and additions. I have learned to push through, not stopping until I feel whole. Art, on my best days, is nirvana, peace and ecstasy. On bad days, it provides a meditative internal mind therapy. I have learned to use problems and roadblocks as a stimulus for creativity.
My work is sold online thru this website. During the Covid 19 pandemic I have closed my in-person galley due to health exposure risks. If you are interested in a work or a commission let me know, and we can facilitate the process. I appreciate your time spent visiting this website. Stay safe and wear a mask when around others.