A Most Beautiful Salve

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A Most Beautiful Salve

Art Therapist Gina Baird on the Healing Power of Creating and Sharing Art

Artist Gina Baird

Artist Gina Baird

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Board Certified and Registered Art Therapist, Gina Baird works one-on-one with individuals to help them tackle difficult experiences and start to heal psychological wounds. Her bold idea to explore and share the healing power of art with our community came to fruition during Nickel Plate Arts’ March 2015 gallery show, Art as Therapy.

The Art As Therapy exhibit brought together heartfelt images and touching stories from more than 30 artists in our community. Gina says she was honored to be part of it and acknowledged that art has an innate capacity to heal and that when we share that with others, that sharing can be healing, too.

“Art can bring what is inside of us out,” Gina says. “Whether we find the words for it or not, it is there telling us what we need to know on many different levels, a true and trusted guide each and every time. When we step out and share our art, we engage a community and we experience another level of healing as our connection to others ignites.”

Gina has been practicing art therapy for more than 19 years. She works with individuals, couples and families at her private practice in Fishers and works with women and children at the Julian Center in Indianapolis.

Moving Through her Daughter’s Illness with Art

One of Gina Baird’s three submissions to the Art As Therapy exhibit, “Strong Lung” was inspired by a dream that prompted medical care that saved her daughter’s life. Here, she explains.

“Strong Lung” by Gina Baird

“Strong Lung” by Gina Baird

The painting speaks to qualities of loyalty and a fierce protectiveness that is represented by the image of me as a half dog and half Egyptian Jackal. The Egyptian Jackal side of me felt like a guard to her soul, perched defensively against loss as she endured countless setbacks and intrusive medical interventions. The dog side of me was loyally fixed on staying positive and at bedside to do whatever was needed to care for her. The doorway that I guard here is both symbolic of the door in my dream and the shape of an Egyptian tomb, which is the gateway to loss and death. There are symbols hidden and tucked into the layers of this painting that I hand-carved into stamps such as the Eye of Horus—a symbol I associate with intuition, which was the life-saving gift given to me in my dream.

I could not hold my child due to the severity of her illness, but I drew continuously at her bedside and depicted image after image of her lungs getting stronger and healthier. This is represented by the figures physically holding the lungs in the X-ray images within me. The doorway and the Egyptian tomb that I guard here as dog/jackal also represents the positive change that one can go through when an unexpected challenge crosses her path in life. Surviving that experience has changed the way that I view the world and how I approach sharing my care with others both personally and professionally. The figures you see in the shadows around the arch of the doorway are internal guides and supports.

Casey Kenley
casey@caseykenley.com