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Thinking about Healing

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Teaching Artist Richard Estrin explains: “The objective of this week’s ART YARD Advanced Studio session on zoom was to project out to sometime in the future and imagine what evolutionary changes would take place if Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was based on collaborative advantage rather than competitive advantage.

This was done as a hybrid of different things—they could be an inanimate object, animal, plant, fungi etc. but two were to be given the cyborg treatment for collaboration.

We began by considering the work of ecoforester/researcher Suzanne Simard and her work regarding the mutualistic relationship between tree roots and the mycorrhiza fungal network.

We then thought about what an unexpected collaboration from two of these groups might look like. We viewed Bernini’s Daphne and Apollo sculpture which catches Daphne as she has part way transitioned into a tree, as well as Architect Stefano Boeri’s “Bosco Verticale” apartment complex in Milan. Here two apartment blocks were home to over 20,000 plants and 800 trees.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Daphne and Apollo (detail), 1625

Architect Stefano Boeri’s “Bosco Verticale” apartment complex in Milan

We finished the lesson by looking at the work of Georges Braque, Mickalene Thomas and Deborah Roberts to see how visual space, texture and shape were used to emphasize and communicate.

Georges Braque, Studio With Black Vase, 1938

Mickalene Thomas, July 1976 (detail), 2021

Deborah Roberts, The Unseen (detail), 2020

The variety of interpretations was remarkable, where no two works looked alike!”

Ed Rath branched into sculpture on his modern Icarus:

Nayarit Tineo knocked it out of the park with her Bio-architecture Mushroom Building, and two other drawings!

Ed commented first there was Purple Haze. Then Purple Rain. Now we have Purple Kelp.

Marilyn August, Cyborg Ecology

Pat Larash, Cyborg Ecology

Diane Collins, Cyborg Ecology

Jane Huntington, Cyborg Ecology

Delphine Levenson, Cyborg Ecology

Meridith McNeal, Cyborg Ecology

Wayne Gross, Cyborg Ecology l

Wayne Gross, Cyborg Ecology ll

Sarah Gumgumji, Cyborg Ecology


At ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at BWAC Teaching Artist Candy Heiland began the session with a recap of the prior week’s lesson when we drew figurines from observation.

Candy writes: “Elizabeth was a newcomer this week and began by drawing from the figurine of her choice. Working quickly, she was able to move onto phase 2 in no time.

In an enlightening comparative exercise we worked from photos of our chosen object. The goal was to compare the different ways of gathering images: how we felt about the techniques and how the different ways of working affected the finished product.

Vera Tineo, Figurine Drawing from Photograph

Elizabeth Morales, Figurine Drawing from Observation

Elizabeth Morales, Figurine Drawing from Photograph

Candy Heiland, Figurine Drawing from Photograph

Meridith McNeal, Figurine Drawing from Photograph

Vera delighted us during critique with her rendition of an art critic. Her mannerisms were perfect, “criticisms” spot on and all of her words were positive and supportive!

We each came to class with stories of what had been an aggravating day. The big welcoming space at BWAC is a most conducive studio. As we drew we naturally fell into a banter -- working in multiples (challenges and benefits), painter John Constable as a maverick ahead of his day, the aesthetic of movie sets, figurines in our homes – and much more! Before the session ended, we were all buoyant and uplifted.

The ultimate goal of this lesson is to learn the ways in which art can heal.”

View from the window at ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC


In her Healing Powers Of Nature lesson, Teaching Artist Fatima Traore asked students participating in ART YARD Art Matters at the Brooklyn New School to identify natural elements which heal and restore.

Since it was a rainy day, drawing from observation in the school's garden center was not possible so students went into the gardens of their imaginations and found plants and herbs with healing powers. Also, the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space) were included as cures for various maladies.

In session in the gym on a rainy day at BNS

Those who completed their pencil drawings added color by using watercolor pencils and Fatima offered a brief demonstration of the use of a water pen. These drawings will evolve into watercolor-like paintings in a future session.

BNS Student drawing with colored pencil: Healing Powers Of Nature

BNS Student drawing with colored pencil: Healing Powers Of Nature

Lavender, lilies, and sunflowers. Fire, water, and space. All found in the gardens in the minds of talented 4th and 5th graders.


STAR Storefront Arts Recovery now has our project Your Flowers Are So Lovely They Have Made Me Well Again listed on their website!


Our benefit Les Amis de ART YARD is two weeks away on Saturday November 13, 12:30-2:30pm at Appétit Bistro Sono, in Norwalk, CT.

Thanks to the generous contribution of board member and Appétit Bistro Sono owner Edwin Montoya 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to support ART YARD programs.

How would you like support ART YARD programs by enjoying delectable Olive Oil made in your own back yard? You will if you are the high bidder on our AUCTION ITEM 2: A vacation stay for two at Casa Meriditta in beautiful Ofena, Italy!!

Olive harvesting season at Casa Meriditta! Photos by Catherine de Zagon:



Festive decorations photographed by Dennis Buonagura

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