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Gilah Hirsch: Artist, Heal Thyself



Photo by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore

Gilah Hirsch: Artist, Heal Thyself

Gilah Hirsch, professor of art, is a featured artist in “Healing: A Contemporary View,” an exhibit at Galerie Lakaye in Los Angeles. Three of her paintings are part of a juried selection of Los Angeles artists, chosen in conjunction with the exhibit, “Healing: A Cultural Exploration,” which is now showing at The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles through April 15.

“Healing: A Cultural Exploration” focuses on multicultural artifacts used on the process of healing from ancient times to the present, including an 18th century Sumatran book of medicine magic, a Vietnamese Buddha for home protection, and an African fetish from the Songe people to protect against smallpox. Hirsch
underscores the universal commonalities in regard to healing and well-being.

“Despite the beautiful diversity among cultures, as human beings we are more alike than we are different,” she says. “In some cultures you may wish for many husbands, or many wives, or only sons, or only daughters, and the gods change every few miles. But grief is universally felt in the same way, in loss of contact,
abandonment, or illness.”

Hirsch herself is an example of how creation of art is potentially healing in itself. Having used art as a visualization technique while recuperating from a paralyzing illness in the 1980s and a near-fatal car accident in 1999, she is an advocate for the healing power of art. The UCLA Medical Arts Collection and Cedars Sinai
both own a number of her paintings to be placed in their facilities.

“There is a lot of research showing the enormous effects of art and environment on healing,” she says.“Healing needs to be effected from the inside out, and developing emotional wholeness and integrity while visualizing specific physiogical changes toward an optimal state.”

- Joanie Harmon-Whetmore




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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 2:22 p.m., by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore