"Healing art ceremonies have the power of healing on a very deep level because they bring communities together and form community where none existed before. In a resonant community, powerful healing is possible." -Vijali Hamilton
Arts & Healing Network is delighted to present one of the 2010 AHN Awards to Vijali Hamilton - visionary sculptor, poet, musician, performance artist and author. She is the originator of The World Wheel: Global Peace Through the Arts Project which combines sacred sculptures, community ritual-based theater and wisdom centers. This project has spanned more than 20 years and over 18 locations around the globe - from Japan to India to Los Angeles - in each location addressing local problems and aspirations and the preservation of indigenous cultures.
Below is an interview by Arts & Healing Network Director Mary Daniel Hobson with Vijali Hamilton from August 2010:
Mary Daniel: Vijali, you have traveled the globe for many years now working in such diverse communities, using art in such a powerful way to create connection and healing. What have you learned in your journey about the healing power of art? Vijali: I have experienced art as a catalyst for healing over and over on my World Wheel Project, now in 18 countries. I have seen that art goes through political, religious and cultural barriers. It connects people and situations, bridging understanding. This understanding is a healing of prejudice and racism. This understanding brings peace through global awareness, forming a global community.
Mary Daniel: The World Wheel Project is such a far-reaching, global and big vision. What inspired you to start it?
The motivation for the World Wheel came from an experience in the mid-70’s when my perception of ourselves and the world shifted, and the Unity of life stood revealed. The next few years were a search for a way to live within this web of life that connects all life. Specific ideas for the World Wheel came to me in a dream. I saw myself carving sculptures out of the living rock and involving people from many cultures in a process of ritual in a giant circle around the world. The circle itself represents Unity in the sense that each spoke of the wheel has a quality that is unique and distinct from every other spoke of the wheel. And yet it is from these differences that harmony arises, from these differences that the whole is created.
Throughout the World Wheel experience, I ask each person I meet three questions: 1. What is our essence? 2. What is our sickness, our imbalance. . . personally, communally and globally? 3. What can heal this sickness...what can bring us into balance?
Their responses to these questions form the ritual performance. Each earth sculpture serves as the performance space and is left as a gift and permanent installation to be used by the community, continuing to connect them to the concept of Unity within the World Wheel.
Mary Daniel: The theme for the 2010 AHN Award is Ceremonial Art. Please share your thoughts on ceremonial art – why is it such a powerful medium for change and transformation?
Vijali: Using art as ceremony gives us a new form of spirituality. Many of us don’t respond to the traditional church format, but still long for a way of communion with spirit. Art ceremonies allow people from any ethnic or religious or non-religious background to gather together with the same intent creating a universal bond. Also many of us don’t find the mainstream medical profession supporting our health needs. Healing art ceremonies have the power of healing on a very deep level because they bring communities together and form community where none existed before. In a resonant community, powerful healing is possible.
Mary Daniel: What excites you most about your creative work right now? Vijali: What excites me the most is to see people in these diverse cultures be inspired to do things that before were only dreams. The World Wheel Process inspires people to take action in their lives and community, and to fulfill their dreams.
Mary Daniel:What advice do you have for other artists who are walking this path of art and healing, or who are looking to engage ceremony and ritual in their work?
Vijali:My advice is for artists to use their art to first heal themselves, and then to address the needs of others and our planet through whatever medium or skill they have. Be confident in the knowledge that art is effective and creates change and healing, and step forward with your own dreams.