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Negative Capability: The Artist as Healer

Negative Capability: The Artist as Healer focuses on the power of portraiture to speak to the universe inside us. 

Curated by Seattle artist Saundra Fleming and featuring South Carolina artist Cliffton Peacock, artists Aleksandar Dordjevic (Serbia) and Andrea Harborth (Germany) New York artist Carol Radsprecher, and NW artists Liz Kennedy, Alexis Ortiz, Kate Harkins, Jeffrey Heiman, George Brandt,Courtney Hudak, Carol Adelman Kennedy, Ingrid Sojit and Lynette Charters, the show explores the diverse range of postmodern portraiture. 

The portraits in Negative Capability demonstrate the particular power artists have to challenge our perceptions, represent psychological challenges, and pursue their interpretation of beauty. 

The poet John Keats coined the term Negative Capability to describe the capacity of the greatest writers to pursue a vision of artistic beauty 

even when it leads them into intellectual confusion and uncertainty.

Artists who have the courage to endure psychological stress and confusion in their process, don’t stop the development of their work because it’s too destabilizing or painful. The finished  works offer the viewers a healing experience. Portraits truly “see” their subjects beyond the surface. They are healers of psychological crises, reaching for a self-healing psyche and a higher state of consciousness.

Fleming’s focus on negative capability comes from her view of the common thread  within the shaman and the artist. Working through destabilizing darkness is similar to a shaman’s state of mind when going into a trance in order to heal or predict for their community. This is akin to the visionary searching of poets, mystics, or artists who heal or predict for their community. 

From the inspiration she has found through portraits, Fleming’s existential reality is lifted up. She mentions, “I almost feel as if I am being held”.

Negative Capability: The Artist as Healer will be on display at Gallery 110 in Seattle, WA from January 5 – 28, 2023. Gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday from 12pm – 5pm and by appointment. For additional information, or to schedule a preview or private viewing of the exhibition, contact Shayley Timm at director@gallery110.com.

Also: an article in the PreviewArt Magazine