September 18, 2018
On September 13, the University of New England’s Maine Women Writers Collection (MWWC), in collaboration with the University of Kent School of English, hosted a symposium titled, “Tell Me What Hurts: Storytelling and the Healing Arts." The event, held on the Biddeford Campus, was presented in conjunction with an exhibition of artist’s book by Martha A. Hall, titled “My Creativity Heals Myself and Others,” and a book arts workshop, hosted by MWWC on September 14, which focused on storytelling around health and healing. The symp
The symposium was planned by Amy Amoroso, M.F.A., and Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., both in UNE’s Department of English, as well as Cathleen Miller, M.A., M.L.S., curator of the MWWC, and Stella Bolaki, Ph.D., from the University of Kent’s School of English. The event featured two keynote speakers. Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset) spoke about healing from an indigenous perspective in her talk, “Healing Our Collective Trauma and Reconnecting with Spiritual Source.” Hedy Wald, Ph.D., delivered her address, “Caring for Our Patients, Our Students, Ourselves: The Power of Narrative,” which explored how narrative can be used in health professions education to humanize medical environments and inform public health and research policy agendas.
In addition to the keynotes, the symposium featured a panel on writing, a panel on teaching with artists’ books, and a panel that presented student perspectives. UNE students and alumni Arooba Almas, Meghan D. Morash and Thomas Rooney participated. Also included was a viewing of a UNE documentary, “I Make Books,” featuring artist Martha Hall, a resident of Orr’s Island, Maine, who died in 2003 at the age of 54, after years of painstakingly creating artist’s books to explore the experience of living with cancer.
The symposium concluded with a reception at UNE’s Ketchum Library Art Gallery, currently exhibiting works by Hall that are held in the Maine Women Writers Collection and Bowdoin College’s Special Collection and Archives. The exhibition will run until December 14.
The September 14 workshop, titled “Writing the Body: Artists’ Books for Ourselves and Each Other,” was led by Rebecca Goodale, a professor of book arts at USM. Participants learned book-making techniques and had an opportunity to make three books throughout the day.
Miller expressed her pleasure in the success of the symposium and its related events in bridging medicine and the arts in a meaningful. “It was exciting and gratifying to help spark truly interdisciplinary dialogues about healing, narrative and creativity by bringing together artists, writers, doctors, social workers and educators, among many others,” she shared. “We hope that this will be the first of many such events.”