By Sarah Bello, Marketing & Communications Specialist
A medicine is defined as a substance used to treat or alleviate symptoms from a disease. CMH values artwork as an integral part of the healing process — a medicine, for patients and caregivers.
Art by several South Clatsop County artists will play a large part in creating the healing environment in the new CMH Medical Group — Seaside, opening in January 2020. These commissioned pieces will reflect the spirit of the community and CMH’s person-centered values. Join us as we meet some of the artists who contributed to the project.
Kyla Sjogren, fiber arts
Sjogren grew up near cotton fields in Florida but had no idea then how the cotton on the plant was transformed into clothing. After teaching herself to sew and make clothes in her 20s, she entered the fashion design industry. Wanting to explore different art mediums, she kept going back to fabric and textiles. She took a weaving workshop on a whim.
“As soon as I sat at a loom, I felt at home,” Sjogren says. “That was the machine that would enable me to express myself.”
Sjogren creates art from natural fibers, such as wool, linen, cotton and hemp, using pigments from plants and insects to dye them. She uses weave structure and color to create textures that form compositions.
Sjogren says she has no choice but to live by the coast — it’s a magnet that constantly draws her. For the Seaside clinic, she created the fiber art piece “Either Way,” a seascape that looks out on the horizon. The ocean, with its vastness, equalizes the playing field in life, she says, and puts everything into perspective.
“I think some pieces of art can really give you hope, as a maker and as a viewer,” she says. “Not everybody has access to these special places [like the coast], and art can give you access no matter where you are. That has the ability to change your mindset and give you hope.”
To see more of Sjogren’s work, visit the Fourth Street Gallery in Manzanita or kylasjogren.com.
Stirling Gorsuch, printmaking
From an early age, Gorsuch was encouraged to take his art seriously. With two artists for parents, he says his life has been a natural progression toward becoming just like them.
After studying visual applied arts at Oregon State University, Gorsuch works mainly with printmaking. He grew up in Cannon Beach, and, for the Seaside clinic, he created a series of four monoprints based on his favorite places down the coast. The prints are atmospheric color studies, illustrating the sky at different times of day.
“My favorite times in my life have been out in nature in these places,” he says. “Those are my biggest inspiration, although trying to translate the feelings can be difficult.”
Gorsuch recently purchased a new press and took about a month to make the art for the clinic. He wanted to use these pieces to explore and try new things.
“I love doing commissions, though sometimes it’s hard to deliver specific ideas. This project was open-ended, which was nice. I’m excited to be a part of it,” he says.
“I think art can foster wellness and inspiration and be thought-provoking. It can restore peace, whether you’re healthy or not.”
More of Gorsuch’s work can be seen in the RiverSea Gallery in Astoria, White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach and online at gorsuchstirling.com.
Dorota Haber-Lehigh, colored pencil and watercolor
Haber-Lehigh is drawing from her background and interests to create her art piece for the Seaside clinic. A native of Poland, she has lived in Seaside for two decades. At Pacific University, she majored in art and international studies, focusing on the history and culture of native peoples.
“Many of the local native plants have been used medicinally by native people,” Haber-Lehigh says. “It is a fascinating subject to study. In Poland, it is very common to use plants for healing purposes.”
Haber-Lehigh is creating a series of 25 botanical illustrations on woodblocks that will be arranged in a square, similar to a mosaic. The blocks will feature healing plants from the Pacific Northwest.
“Each piece will be done in colored pencils and watercolor, on a walnut ink background, with layers of protective wax on top,” she explains. “The illustrations will be vibrant in color, and the subject matter will range from trees to flowers to berries.”
Her art is heavily influenced by her childhood, during which she spent time mushroom hunting, camping and hiking with her parents. And she loves the idea of having nature-related art in health care settings.
“Being surrounded by plants can be soothing,” she says. “The cyclical nature of plants reminds us of the human life cycle. Above all, nature and plants have amazing powers of regeneration, giving us hope for our own well-being.”
You can see more of Haber-Lehigh’s work at dorotahaberlehigh.com or at the Cannon Beach Art Association.
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