Art Heals After Tragedy: 'A Piece of Peace for Tucson' Saturday at Bohemia and Borealis Arts

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When life bites, art heals.

Tucson has an abundance of healing to do in the wake of the tragic shootings. So it only follows suit we’re getting an abundance of art.

Hercule the peace beetle
  • Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski
  • Hercule the peace beetle

A colorful, captivating collage of balloons and mementos already consumes a corner at the intersection of Pima Street and Swan Road, gracing the space in front of U.S. Congresswoman’s Gabrielle Giffords’ office.

Shrines, offerings, murals, music and other public displays are the visible results of a community’s automatic outpouring of love in response to a tragedy. Tucson responded.

More healing art comes our way Saturday with A Piece of Peace for Tucson, a double-location event put together by Bohemia and Borealis Arts “to honor the victims and celebrate the survivors of the terrible events of Jan. 8, 2011,” the announcement said. The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. at Bohemia, 2920 E. Broadway, and Borealis Arts, 6530 E. Tanque Verde Rd., suite 160.

Bohemia is planning a public shrine to accept your offerings while Borealis plans an interactive canvas where you can share your thoughts. Both galleries will have message books for the victims’ families and message boxes for Giffords.

More than 40 artists have already donated works for Bohemia’s silent auction that night, with proceeds going to the Tucson Tragedy Victims Fund, The Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Fund and the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund.

Artists who wished to participate were asked to come up with a work that to them symbolized peace. I am offering Hercule, the peace beetle. He’s one of my few pieces that does not have jagged teeth or edges sharp enough to sever an eyeball.

Tucson has already bled enough.

Art serves as a soothing balm, a catharsis. It’s a way to channel our fear, pain and grief into something that makes some sense. The act of creating art takes us out of the chaos and into the magical dimension of the moment, a form of meditation. It sucks out our inner anguish and splashes it onto a canvas. Each piece contains a sliver of the artist’s soul.

Haiti’s earthquake last January killed 200,000, left more than 1 million homeless and gave rise to countless works of art. Works that made their way to the United States included an exhibit of Haitian children’s drawings at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; a line of Haitian artist home décor at Macy’s; and a massive Haitian artist display of work at Miami International Airport.

Art has neither borders nor boundaries. Some artists don’t even color in between the lines.

And they certainly don’t have to. Art is not always about precision but rather about expression. Some souls simply don’t fit between the lines. Other souls barely fit in a canvas. Some souls sing sweet with soft symbols while others rip and roar with jagged teeth.

Art soothes them all, working as a successful form of therapy for both children and adults. Art-therapy camps popped up all over Port-au-Prince and its environs following last year’s earthquake. Programs across our nation offer arts to help heal everything from the tortured memories of childhood abuse to drug addiction with post-traumatic stress disorder nightmares in between.

While art is working to soothe it’s also working as a glue that bonds a community — or the world — together. The Art Miles Mural Project is 12 years into its mission of promoting global peace and harmony through murals. Many countries have joined the movement, including Italy, Syria, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, France, Canada and the United States with a mural in Denver.

But we need not trek to Pakistan, Japan or even Denver to find healing art — it’s already pouring out in Tucson.
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Ryn Gargulinski, aka Rynski, is a writer, artist, performer and poet. Her radio show airs every Wednesday and her column appears every Friday. See more writing and art from RYNdustries at ryngargulinski.com and rynski.etsy.com.

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