The Cushing House, a program of the Gavin Foundation, is a residential treatment program for young people ages 16-20. Four days a week, participants visit Medicine Wheel to engage in healing art classes. Nearly 150 young people from the Cushing House participate in these art classes each year.
Sound and Surrender: The Rainstick Project
Rainsticks are musical and ceremonial instruments, originally made out of the wood skeletons of dead cacti plants filled with thorns and stones. Used over history as musical and ceremonial instruments, they created the soothing sound of rain and were believed to bring on a downpour.
The Cushing Men explored the therapeutic, artistic and symbolic nature of rainsticks employing them as a vehicle for continued self -reflection, meditation and discovery in their young recovery. Creating them out of long hollow tubes, inserted with nails and later filled with seeds, offered them moments of contemplation into the symbolic nature of these life forms as reflections of one’s true self; unencumbered, full of potential, overflowing with love and gratitude past blocks, additions, fears and pain.
Using the rainsticks as a meditative sound instrument, the men were invited to experience the healing powers of their art in moving toward a deeper place of stillness and knowing.
Serenity Banner created by the Cushing Men
A Women’s Way of Knowing: The Braid Project
Braiding has always been a social art. During braiding of each others’ hair, women came together to socialize and bond. The tradition was passed down from elders braiding younger children’s hair to older children watching and learning the tradition to practice on younger children. In this sense the act of braiding served as a means to weave the past, present, and future together through this generational bonding.
The Cushing House women at Medicine Wheel Studio have engaged in this women’s way of knowing, working mindfully over the past month on the Braid Wave Project. They worked side-by-side, weaving long colorful strips of fabric together to form strong colorful braids. During this activity the studio was at times a place of quiet and mindfulness. At other times, a place of sharing thoughts of the moment, stories of the past, and dreams of the future.
The side-by-side configuration of their braids simultaneously flowing on a common path, symbolize a collective journey through recovery. They also act as a metaphor for the transformative power of human connection and a catalyst for strength in unity. Meditation during the act of braiding with the three strands of fabric woven together was an invitation to contemplate the significance of the mind, body, and spirit coming together to make one whole. The robust current of braids flowing around the carved clay plate portraits of each woman serve to protect, strengthen and unite on their path to recovery.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events.