Using Art to Heal

Dec 27, 2016

Humans have been making monuments and memorializing events, people, and tragedies for a long time. Do we think about memorials different today than we used to? 

According to David Schmitz, who is Executive Director with the Dubuque Museum of Art, the answer is yes.  Schmidtz has worked cataloging memorials and monuments in the state. 

Michelle Balhan and Ann Keimig

"It’s hard to point to one moment when things changed, but with monuments, we can do that. The Vietnam memorial is an example. That artist wanted to literally make a scar on the earth, and that was the first time these monuments became abstract," he says. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Schmitz about the monuments we have in Iowa and how we've paid tribute to the past in the state. Later in the hour, Ray "Bubba" Sorensen, who paints the Freedom Rock in rural Adair county, also joins the conversation. 

To start the show, we spend a little bit of time talking about how memorials are becoming increasingly personal. Michelle Balhan, who owns Velvet Lotus Tattoo in Iowa City, talks about memorial tattooing. Ann Keimig, who recently had a tattoo of a sprig of rosemary in honor of her late mother, says for her, the physical pain of getting a tattoo is healing. 

"I always say I'm going to get ink therapy. Then people ask if I journal," she laughs. "I say 'this is a different kind of ink therapy.'" 

This program originally aired as part of IPR's 2016 Iowa Week during the month of September.