by: Felicia Greiff on July 11th, 2012 | 3 Comments »
“Healing is more than confronting the challenge of an illness. The wise approach is to realize that it is a lifestyle requiring constant support, and attention to the well-being of our mind, body, and spirit.”
These words appear in “Wisdom for Healing,” a card deck illustrated by figurative artist Janice Fried and produced by Hay House Publishing. Most of the images in the deck present a subject interacting with nature, focusing on a craft, or doing routine tasks with serene expressions on their faces.
From 2002 to 2006, Fried, who is based in New Jersey, created illustrations to accompany the deck’s text, a series of affirmations written by Caroline Myss. Of the three decks Fried did for Hay House, “Wisdom for Healing” is her favorite, and it’s easy to see why: the texture and repetition of lines and shapes in the illustrations create a sweeping, soothing motion. The images in the cards range from waves crashing over jagged rocks to a woman lounging in a pool of rippling water.
People have often commented on the calming effect of Fried’s artwork, but she stresses the layers and complexity beneath the images of calm:
“There are a lot of layers,” she said. “As you go deeper, there’s all kinds of turmoil and emotion in us and in life.”
At a closer look, tension and energy play across the faces of Fried’s subjects. There is a focus on the solitary, quiet moments of daily activities, rousing a reflective mood in the viewer. Perhaps it is the blend of tension and calm that brings comfort to those who use Fried’s healing cards.
The cards come with a small booklet containing further explanations of the affirmations. Fried often hears about the variety of ways that people use the cards: Some therapists have reported using the card deck in group sessions as well and people going through cancer use the cards for daily meditation. “Usually they just pick a card at random in the morning to use as their focus for that day,” Fried said. She receives many enthusiastic and grateful responses from all over the world, and she saves them all.
“It is one of the most gratifying parts of this job,” Fried said of the responses. “I’ve received many beautiful emails. And from all over the world. It’s been quite amazing.”
A woman whose son had died in Iraq called Fried shortly after “Wisdom for Healing” was available in stores. She told Fried that she was struck by an image in the first deck that depicted an angel whispering into the ear of a woman with very long blonde hair, saying that the angel in the illustration looked “very much like her daughter-in-law.” Fried sent a print of the image to the woman who gave it to her daughter-in-law to help her through her grief. Fried had modeled the angel in the image after her sister-in-law who was dying of melanoma at the time.
“A lot of my imagery at that point was very much geared with her in mind,” Fried says, adding that she also thought of “other friends who are struggling with very difficult physical problems” as she created the deck of healing cards.
For Fried, spirituality is tied with her creativity. Fried said she is not a religious person, but she likes to observe holidays, especially Yom Kippur, which she sees as a hopeful and reflective time. As Fried was writing a journal entry a few years ago, she said she realized that “without the distraction of food I could simply focus on the one thing that I think makes me special, my ability to draw and create artwork.” She added that “the best way I could celebrate being close to God within me was by drawing.”
“In my way of thinking, God is creativity itself… It’s a pure thing,” Fried said. “It’s very healing to me.”