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First Responders Destress at Sheehan Gallery Exhibit

By Kynde Kiefel, Director of the Sheehan Gallery

The Sheehan Gallery team is grateful for all the ways that Xiaoze Xie’s exhibition, “PANORAMA: Cantos Unfolding,” has been taught, discussed and utilized by multiple classes and community groups throughout the semester. Xie’s monumental work seeks to communicate the complex layers of living through the COVID-19 pandemic and offers a timely and multivalent perspective.

“In terms of an artist’s role,” said Xie, “I feel there is the responsibility to represent collective memory, collective history, and to make works about something larger than your personal world.”

In October, Natasha Delano, Clinical Operations Director for Providence St. Mary Medical Center brought 19 nurses, lab technicians and social workers to the Sheehan Gallery. After experiencing the artwork, the group participated in an hour-long MELT (Myofacial Energetic Lengthening Technique) session taught by Wellness Instructor Kristi Kiefel, who also teaches MELT for Whitman’s Movement That Matters and elsewhere in the community. The intention in combining these two experiences was to massage out some of the stuck stress that many people have been carrying throughout these past three years. Acknowledging that there is a lot of healing still left to do, the desire was to create the opportunity for medical workers to process these emotions both verbally and physically.

Sheehan Gallery Director Kynde Kiefel introduced the show to the team of medical professionals, and then everyone situated themselves however they were comfortable within the space in order to process, either out loud or internally, what they went through and witnessed on the front lines of the pandemic. It was an emotional experience and many of the medical staff were generous in the details they were willing to share.

Delano said, “It was incredibly healing for our nurses and techs to be able to engage with the exhibit and to acknowledge the bravery and hardships that we endured during the pandemic. I’m grateful that I was able to share that time with them and with you! MELT was magic. One of the ladies said that after the gallery visit and MELT session, she felt like a newborn baby!”

Published on Dec 7, 2023
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