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CHI Creates the CHI Holistic Arts Guild

Mary Kalbach

As CHI began to explode early on in its lifetime, I was so honored to be brought onto the leadership team as the facilitator for the CHI Holistic Arts Guild. Giving a nod to the Arts seemed like the next logistical step for growth - the Creatives and Intuitives who flood the CHI membership roster tend to leak their creativity all over everything they touch. Holistic Health is deeply soulful work and so we often find the holistic practitioner occupying the same spaces as the creatives - speaking the same language and seeking connection at the same levels.

In January, Guild member Jimmy Purkey hung a show of his paintings at Parliament in York, PA. The show explored the theme of mental health. Purkey invited guests to not just look on and reflect upon each piece, but to engage with it by jotting down thoughts on sticky notes and creating a conversation collage around each piece. We are so thankful to Purkey for bringing the voice of those with mental illness into the community conversation.

When we added a Holistic Arts arm to the Community for Holistic Integration, our goal was to start a conversation in the Holistic Health community about how art can heal at the soul level.

Art is like a bridge between the concrete and the divine. Holistic artists are working to bring meaning that heals through concrete expressions of their own divine experience.

After 911 we devoted millions of dollars and a nationwide search to find the artist who could accurately portray the terror, grief, loss, anger and hope our whole country needed to heal and remember.

Right here in York County the Penn Street Art Bridge recently grappled with the death of national icon Kobe Bryant and his young daughter.

As COVID spreads around the world and populations of entire countries are self-isolating, art galleries are putting their collections online to assure the people still have access.

In the heart of ourselves, we inherently know that when we need to heal - when we need to express ourselves in soul language so we can move through pain - that’s when we need to seek out the artists.

And our communities are in pain. Jimmy Purkey’s work helped us hold up a mirror to the problem of mental illness and not just sit back and muse about it, but he called on us to come together as a community to interact with the face of it. His art called us into a conversation - a conversation that is the beginning of healing.

Within the CHI HA! Guild we have...

A visual artist who is bringing the ancient ritualistic art of henna to everyday objects

A performance artist who Is creating intense performances about hard topics to small, intimate audiences

A visual artist who is holding workshops for preteen girls to help them explore and walk in their own divine feminine power and claim their place in this community

A theater artist who is learning the art of psychodrama in order to bring it to the underserved populations of York County.

Musicians who are making sound therapy and drumming circles accessible to everyone in the local South Central PA community

Throughout history, artists have expressed the unexpressed voice of communities and created shared experiences that heal.

It has been artists who used dance, and drumming in our earliest recorded history to release people from so-called negative energies.

It was storytellers who preserved culture and gave voice to entire people groups.

It was visual artists in ancient tribes who created visual face paintings that gave their people a sense of identity, belonging and strength.

And it was performance artists who created the rituals that connected the sacred to the mundane to bring soul healing all throughout the history of humanity.

We honor with gratitude the work of an artist who is continuing the long-standing tradition of art that heals. We appreciate Jimmy Purkey for boldly standing in the York community and asking us to interact with the idea of mental illness right here in our local community. He stands as one among a whole community of Healer-Artists illuminating the soul of our local community.

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