The Morning Call Online

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PALACE MAINGATE

Or, read & ENTER BELOW

Visit the National MS Society webpage & Rocky Mountain MS Center!
Read about Dr. Weber (pg. 16) in
ARTisSpectrum Magazine Vol. 17
And, earlier (pg. 8) in ARTisSpectrum Magazine Vol. 11
Also, the Winter 2008 (PDF) "Creativity, Healing & MS"
And, the current issue of Momentum Magazine. Listen!

Then Join our Creativity Class & paint yourself into His story!!!
Fellow Artists who have joined our Quest - Godspeed!

 

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The Healing Art of Creativity: combating chronic stress,
depression and multiple sclerosis (MS) (below)

article by Brett Curtis Weber, Ph.D. & the Spirits in Purgatory

And, a few more colorful notes (here).
Help us tell another entertaining
LEGEND with a modern day twist.
"Don't be Fwightened!"
Teri Garr has MS too.
Join the Quest!

below

Note: songs with lyrics may bother you some during Audrey's
artwork narration. Only add extra songs when you are ready.

Our special thank you to the musicians.

ADD MORE & ART BELOW. .....

Pictured above: Dr. Brett Weber and his helper dog Sophia
create artwork in
their studio & teach about creativity at Good Shepherd
Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

Our Class Goals & special Thank You. .....

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"Every genuine artistic intuition goes beyond what the senses perceive and reaching beneath reality's surface, strives to interpret its hidden mystery. The intuition itself springs from the depths of the human soul, where the desire to give meaning to one's own life is joined by the fleeting vision of beauty and of the mysterious unity of things. All artists experience the unbridgeable gap which lies between the work of their hands, however successful it may be, and the dazzling perfection of the beauty glimpsed in the ardour of the creative moment: what they manage to express in their painting, their sculpting, their creating is no more than a glimmer of the splendour which flared for a moment before the eyes of their spirit." - Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists

John Paul II's beautiful words speak to a universal human experience we share in when we create. I do not mention the word "Healing" in my artist statement, but the notion that art and creativity can be used in the healing process is not a new idea. Certainly, there are many examples where a passion for creativity has helped people face and persevere against tremendous personal obstacles--especially in the arts and sciences. Stephen Hawking the renowned physicist or the deceased artist Gay Lauritzen, two highly creative people afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, both passionate about their work and life.

Since my own diagnosis with Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the freedom to express myself creatively through art has been physically beneficial and psychologically therapeutic. How so? First, creating artwork (or simply acting creatively) may not be a cure for Progressive-Relapsing MS, but it is an example of both a physical and mental process which helps me to maximize my own natural coping skills--while alleviating some of the negative emotional stress caused by the progression of my disease, stress which I believe increases symptoms and disability caused by my form of MS.

Whether a person suffers from a chronic illness like MS or not, we each do our best to overcome unhealthy stress and we each adapt to change and adversity. Our sense of self-worth is closely associated with our apparent ability to control change within our lives. When negative changes take place and are beyond our control (such is the case with MS), our need for control escalates. In my own situation, my need for control has at times become overwhelming. Practicing forms of relaxation that help me to let go of that need (especially during times of heightened emotional stress) provides me with a greater sense of perceived control over my illness, and may actually affect the progression of my form of MS. Approximately 6-10% of people with MS appear to have a form that is progressive from onset, but also characterized by acute attacks--in my case attacks have always correlated with periods of high emotional stress.

Regardless of what type of MS a person has, some common emotional reactions are likely to appear. A sense of disbelief, anger, depression, guilt, fear, a driving desire to regain control over one's life--all of these negative feelings contribute to an intense chronically active stress within the person. Of course, stress is an entirely understandable response to MS (and chronic illness in general). A diagnosis of MS implies a lifelong condition, progressive physical disability, emotional conflict and lasting adjustments. Stress is a normal reaction to MS and should be expected. Finding a positive stress-relieving escape from the disease can be extremely helpful.

Physicians claim that about one half of all people who have MS experience a serious depression during their illness. I have, of course, at times felt depressed about my illness. Interestingly though, I have never felt compelled to go on any form of antidepressant medication. I believe that I am blessed with a naturally happy disposition, but that I have also maximized my natural coping skills through productive positive thoughts that have inevitably taken shape within my art and personal life. For example, who I associate with and how they affect me emotionally has become an important consideration. I simply refuse to be surrounded by negative people--and this includes certain individuals within the medical community. I choose my physicians and my friends very carefully. They have a powerful impact on the way we feel about ourselves--rousing courage and hope, or fear and depression.

There are a wide range of physical symptoms that may come and go over time with MS. The disease causes damage within the central nervous system along nerve pathways affecting movement, speech, vision, hearing, and bladder & bowel control. What is not commonly recognized is that the disease can also directly interfere with a person's ability to think clearly. Damage within the brain can create changes that affect problem-solving, attention, learning and memory. I believe that just as physical therapy can help people with MS maintain as much physical ability as possible, mental therapies that encourage problem-solving, attention, learning and memory skills can help people with MS maintain as much cognitive ability as possible. Strategies such as art therapy and other positive challenging creative outlets may help improve or maintain partially impaired cognitive pathways within the brain, and may enhance an individual's self-worth and natural coping skills against depression and perhaps fatigue.

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Picture 2: Memory (broken art)

"There is no human being who does not carry a treasure in his soul,
a moment of insight, a memory of life, a dream of excellence,
a call to worship." - Abraham Heschel (1907 - 1972)

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My paintings are abstractions. I do not intend to paint representational images. From time to time they may appear to be something recognizable, and then I may give them the obvious or not so obvious name, but I never intend to paint anything representational. All the same, because I do name my paintings (other artists often leave their abstract art untitled), I do believe that I eventually come to recognize after some reflection what my paintings represent. The entire process of creating and then naming my paintings provides me with a very satisfying physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual release. What's more, because I approach my artwork with no expectations of good or bad, right or wrong, correct or incorrect, much as a young child first approaches art, I experience very little of the stress and anxiety that is often associated with the creative process. What will people think of my creative work? A question that once caused me anxiety (example my Ph.D defense), has become much less important in view of my illness. I create artwork for my own enjoyment now, and to my own personal satisfaction.

Why do I invert the color of my paintings in my digital art? Well, the inverted color spectrum is beautiful, revealing in that it uncovers hidden elements within the paintings, and also emotionally soothing especially when placed along side the original sister image. The inverted colors also serve to remind me symbolically that scientists must ponder questions from opposing points of view so that eventually we find the correct answers to difficult problems. Below, the inverted image reveals itself to me as a solar eclipse and so I named the painting "Moon."

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Picture 3: Moon (original painting and sister image)

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"On the day of the new moon, in the month of Hiyar, the Sun was put to shame, and went down in the daytime, with the Venus star in attendance." - Record of an eclipse on Sun 3 May 1375 B.C. discovered in Mesopotamia. "I see the moon, And the moon sees me; God bless the moon, And God bless me." - Unknown

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Viewed together the original painting and sister image can be seen as equivalent or contradictory, an analogy to the arts and sciences--and a metaphor that conscious and unconscious elements within us affect health simultaneously in both positive and negative directions.

You may have noticed that I only work on square canvases. This is because while I am painting I do not consider the final orientation of the work. I paint freely and often turn and spin the canvas in different directions and then again when I am interpreting the final abstraction. Only after I have given the painting (and digital art) a name do they receive their final correct orientation. I call the process "Wakeful Dreaming" because much like the early Freudian and Jungian psychologists who first attempted to understand their patients' dreams using various techniques, I attempt to understand my paintings (and digital art) by giving them each a specific name which usually comes to me upon reading a famous (or not so famous) quotation, or idea. In this way the process of freely creating abstract imagery that I reflect on and finally name embodies an ongoing conversation that I have with myself. In practice, a dialogue between my unconscious, dreamlike, symbolic mind (characterized by my artwork) and my conscious, rational, literate mind (characterized by the quotations I choose). Together, the quotations and artwork speak to me as both a critic and a friend.

The last step to my creative process is to break my artwork symbolically. I do this by combining the original painting and sister image. I was diagnosed with MS the week before finishing my Ph.D. in neuroscience. I remember how I felt that week--shock, a sense of disbelief, as though a brick had just shattered my newly completed stained-glass window. Unlike the original paintings and sister images, my broken art stood alone without words when first exhibited. Since that time, however, something internal has pushed me to add a few words, a final thought. What would my Broken Art say if it could speak? If I could just continue the two thoughts expressed within each painting and sister image, what final thought might appear?

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Picture 4: Moon (broken art derived from painting and sister image)

"Your life and my life flow into each other as wave
flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy
and freedom for you, there can be no real peace
or joy or freedom for me. To see reality--not as we
expect it to be but as it is--is to see that unless
we live for each other and in and through each
other, we do not really live very satisfactorily;
that there can really be life only where there
really is, in just this sense, love."
- Frederick Buechner (b. 1926)

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People with MS often feel as though they have let their family and close friends down, and that they are somehow responsible for developing the disease. Particularly vulnerable are young mothers (the group most commonly diagnosed with MS) who often feel a tremendous sense of guilt for not being able to carryout their usual work within the family. Although, I have no children it is still mistakenly easy to feel a profound sense of culpability for having MS.

My artwork is about bringing unity to myself. It is about listening to instead of shouting at reality. It is also about triggering my mind's unconscious thought processes toward healing--by paying attention to and making sense of the normally silent, repressed and often time distant elements within myself. Because I am also trained as a neuroscientist and believe that the mind plays a role in healing the body, I am approaching my art as an experiment. It begs the question do we have more control over our health than we appreciate? And if so, how might a person harness that control? Perhaps, by letting go of control entirely--the paradox of combating chronic stress and depression?

There are presently thirty-four abstract (non-representation) paintings on BrokenArtGallery.com, but I will discuss three briefly (with sister images) so that you might better understand "Wakeful Dreaming" --my invented "Healing Ritual" of unplanned creativity and imagination. Oftentimes, my analysis is personal and would only have significance to me, but these three paintings (and sister images) can be understood on several different levels.

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Picture 5: Discovery (original painting and sister image)

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"Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought." - Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986) 1937 Nobel Laureate in Medicine; "Reasoning is compared to understanding as movement is to rest…" - Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274)

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.1) The painting "Discovery" is an abstraction that I created without planned conscious symbolic intent (as are all my paintings), but in a broad sense I now have come to understand the painting as the moment when human life begins--the act of fertilization (egg and sperm), two genotypes discovering one another and setting into motion the algorithm of a human life. I decided to name the painting "Discovery" after a famous quotation by Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986) who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1937. My paintings are about ideas and questions, not necessarily answers--how might the viewer interpret the painting "Discovery?" Does it convey the importance of a scientific discovery--perhaps a cure for the disease MS brought about by fetal stem cell research? Or, does "Discovery" convey faith and the recognition of a human life begun? My wakeful dreams allow me to communicate with another part of myself, but I also hope that my finished paintings may make viewers think about some of the same questions and ideas. The painting "Discovery" causes me to think deeper on the question of stem cell research and ethical concerns. Certainly, fetal stem cell research may benefit people with MS tremendously, but it also raises ethical questions that we must confront together as a society and as individuals. Regardless, stem cell research is a very timely topic with regard to healing and one that I believe my unconscious psyche has given some thought to.

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Picture 6: Rainforest (original painting and sister image)

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"The point is that nobody knows. Things like the weather are so subtle, and what effect the rainforest has- on any of that stuff - oxygen, all the things that you hear about, the big scares - it's not known. But as long as it's not known, it's not a good idea to rip them up and tear them down, you know what I mean?" - Jerry Garcia (1942 - 1995); "Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!" - Saint Augustine (354-430)

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2) Once again, created without planned intent, I interpret the painting "Rainforest" as the global act of deforestation--the cutting, burning and irretrievable extinction of our planet's most valuable and underappreciated resource, biological diversity. We are losing medicinal plants, insects and other species that may ultimately hold the cures for diseases like MS at an unprecedented pace. As a scientist who is also afflicted with an incurable disease, this issue is very close to me. I see the deforestation of the world's rainforests (and loss of biological diversity) as the single most important environmental issue of our time, and I feel symbolically linked to global deforestation and the burning rainforests with every passing day through the demyelination of nerve cells that is continuing unabated within my own body--someone should listen. I named this painting "Rainforest" after a relatively obscure quotation by Jerry Garcia (1942 - 1995) an American Songwriter and Musician who formed the Grateful Dead band.

The final selection of artwork is called "Escape."

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Picture 7: Escape (sister image below / original painting far below)

"We can escape the commonplace only by manipulating it, controlling it, thrusting it into our dreams, or surrendering it to the free play of our subjectivity." - Raoul Vaneigem (b. 1934- )

"One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever shifting desires." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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3) I understand the painting "Escape" as a conversation I continue to have with the unconscious part of myself through wakeful dreams--it is about finding an escape from the disease MS. Much like seeing the ocean and clouds from a hijacked airplane, "Escape" addresses the questions that I believe most people with MS ask themselves "How can I escape?" "Why is my body attacking itself?" "Does some part of me know the answer?" and "Can I regain control?" I named this painting "Escape" after a quotation by Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the renowned physicist and man of the 20th Century. In addition, each separate painting within the three paneled "Escape" carries it's own name from left to right "Dreams," "Report," "Disease" each taken from a separate quotation by Julie Cameron, William Shakespeare, and Hilaire Belloc respectively.

Art can be stimulating to both eye and mind, and can provide us with an opportunity to heal ourselves and others. In a drawing Leonardo da Vinci executes a masterful diagram with an engineer's precision of his legendary flying machine. Unfortunately, many people with MS lose their ability to do the very fine hand-eye coordination required in representational art and may stop doing art in frustration, but abstract art does not place as high a barrier to disabled people with limited hand-eye motor control and provides the same therapeutic benefits. Leonardo da Vinci once referred to art as being "the Queen of all sciences." --a Queen who offers not simply an alternative approach to obtaining knowledge, but also a way of sharing that knowledge with the world. Although MS has affected my hands to some degree, I choose to do abstract art not because of my reduced dexterity, but because abstraction is the only style of art that can be executed without planned intent, and therefore a way for me to dream.

Join the Quest good Knights!

 

 

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Impossible
is possible.

Automated Broken Art Show with Audrey's narration.
Simply
click here & relax while the artwork slowly changes for you.
The entire exhibition lasts about 90 minutes. We hope you enjoy.
Discovery Series began in Philadelphia & SOHO NYC in 2001.
Voyage Series began in Chania, Crete, Greece in 2002.
Both shows continue travelling to bring greater
public support to multiple sclerosis
research.
Call 1-610-433-4156 to host a show.

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Although it is likely that a person with MS will have a bout of depression at some point during their illness, a recent study has shown that most individuals achieve a positive sense of self-worth that continues throughout life. Even so, serious clinical depression is real, and can be a side effect of some MS medications. Some studies have suggested that depression in MS might be directly related to damage within certain parts of the brain. Only a physician can assess serious (or clinical) depression and may recommend antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapy. If a person with MS also has a personal or family history of depression, they should consult with their physician about an appropriate treatment. Creating artwork as a form of self-hypnosis or psychotherapy may be an effective way of alleviating certain types of depressive symptoms, but should only be explored under the professional guidance of a trained therapist. Dr. Weber is a scientist, not a therapist.

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Impossible
is happening.

Enjoy the rest of your visit & join us. Try this.

,

A friend living with MS in Macungie PA, strains
to hold her brush as she paints with other
members of Dr. Weber & Sophia's

Creativity Class &
Broken Art Movement

in Allentown, PA,
Thursday, July 7, 2005.
(Frank Wiese/TMC)

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Today, Brett tells friends that he's always trying to follow God's plan for his life. He's still exploring three ideas that have helped him manage his MS in a positive way since he was diagnosed in 1997-simply having faith, staying creative, and finding true companionship with friends and helper animals such as his German Shepherd Dog "Sophia." Sophia's autographed (computerized paw-print) picture is now available (bottom of page), and she usually allows Brett to sign too (upon request).

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Impossible
is supporting.

Anchor BROKENARTGALLERY.COM-
-
Purchase Framed Giclée Prints - $150.00.

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Brett moved back to his childhood home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. several years ago, and with the help of his family has converted his garage into his "Broken Art Studio" where he works with other local artists in town. "I'm blessed with a wonderful family and an exciting group of friends. With regard to seeing the CURE for MS, anything is possible!"

(Our most recent art shows)

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Our Class Goals & special Thank You. .....

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Impossible
is believing.

Yes Mathematicians, with one flap of its butterfly wings.
Thanks for your flap!

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Of course, there is a theory in math called the Butterfly Effect. It suggests that a butterfly flapping it's wings in some far off place can cause a tornado or even a hurricane on the other side of the world. If a butterfly can flap it's wings and cause a hurricane thousands of miles away, what might you effect? Conservatively, more than you might otherwise predict. Help us find the CURE for MS today & every disease and disability on the face of the planet. After that, visit the complexity exihibit hosted by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA USA and gain some complexity. Above is a fun example of The Lorenz Chaos Butterfly. Click in the window (above) to start a particle in motion around two strange attractors. Click again near to where you clicked the first time. You should see a new particle following the first very closely for a while, but as time goes on the small difference between the paths of the particles increases until they are following completely non-related paths. The Lorenz butterfly illustrates the concept of "sensitive dependence upon initial conditions." The small difference in initial conditions ultimately has a large impact on the paths of each particle. The Lorenz butterfly may be used as an analogy to multiple sclerosis. What makes multiple sclerosis, like the weather, so difficult to predict? Help scientists find the answer to that question. As the Lorenz Chaos Butterfly model suggests, small changes may have enormous outcomes. Enjoy your visit. And, thank you Dr. James P. Crutchfield for the use of your Applet.

 

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Impossible
is near.

Visit Dr. Brett, Sophia & all their many friends in Allentown, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
If you would like to learn about the
National MS Society or Dr. Weber's class
on art & creativity please contact CreativityClass@BrokenArtGallery.com.

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Allentown, PA USA /is on the map!

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"Hypocrisy is the homage
which vice pays to virtue."

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- Francois de La Rochefoucauld
French author & moralist (1613 - 1680)

"doG knows that Brett would
THANKFULLY
accept any CURE!

If you had MS,
you would accept
any CURE too.

Regardless, TODAY Brett accepts the Pope
& his position on embryonic stem cell research, of course
watching friends and himself become more disabled
over time
obviously makes the Pope's policy increasingly difficult to endorse.

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Consider: Embryonic Stem (ES) Cells can be obtained from the early developing stages of an embryo as shown in the first figure with a blastocyst. Stem cells obtained from this newly developed bundle of cells have the full potential to differentiate into absolutely, positively anything in the human body. Many scientists believe that embryonic stem cell research could lead to therapies that have the potential to cure at least 120 million Americans. They believe that these cells have the potential to cure thousands of disorders and biomedical problems such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, spinal cord injury, and organ replacements. These are the types of stem cells that are under constant controversy because they are taken from a five to six day old embryo . President Bush has legalized approximately 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines that can legally be used in research laboratories in the United States. The constant struggle between science, the government, and religion is at the pinnacle of this controversy.

Ethical” Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

(Right) "Broken Art" derived from painting & sister image.
Title
"Discovery"

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Use the word "Impossible"
with greatest caution.

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Join the Quest! Dr. Brett Curtis Weber, Ph.D. is an artist and neuroscientist who lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania and who is a member of the National Arts Program and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. His work is shown in galleries internationally, and can be seen on BrokenArtGallery.com which hosts over 300 artists worldwide who support us in our fight against MS. Dr. Weber has also been a member of the board of directors of the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and works towards expanding the creative and healing potential of all human beings through art.

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© Copyright 2007 - BrokenArtGallery.com

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