Stories of art and holistic health connect many at 2014 Future Healthcare Conference

John Fechter, a holistic health intern draws at the art station in Jack Adams Hall at the Future of Healthcare Conference 2014 sponsored by the holistic health department at SF State Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Emma Chiang/Special to Xpress.

John Fechter, a holistic health intern draws at the art station in Jack Adams Hall at the Future of Healthcare Conference 2014 sponsored by the holistic health department at SF State Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Emma Chiang/Special to Xpress.

After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the symptoms of the disease started to take their toll, Elizabeth Jameson discarded her title as a public interest lawyer and immersed herself in the world of art.

“When I had a huge inability to talk, I thought ‘Holy shit, what am I going to do with my life?’,” Jameson said. “So, when I went to my first art class I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.”

Her story and the stories of other panelists set the theme, Role of Art in Health and Creative Change, for the 2014 Future of Healthcare Conference Saturday, Oct. 8 at Jack Adams Hall. The Holistic Health Network hosted the event, which has run biennially since 2004, marking its fifth run at SF State.

“Anyone that has ever experienced the shivers you get when you hear a beautiful song, or see a powerful image or are hit by a heart-piercing poem knows what art does,” said HHNOfficer Matthew Mauger, who played a key role in planning the event.

Holistic health offers an integrated model of care by weaving together the social and natural sciences, the arts and humanities and the teachings of traditional societies, said founder of the Holistic Health Learning Center Kenn Burrows.

Naj Wikoff, the keynote speaker, founded Creative Healing Connections 15 years ago to support the healing of women living with cancer, veteran and active-duty women with post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma through art and nature.

“When you bring art into their lives, you are the answer to their prayers,” Wikoff said.

A band led by Mazin Mahhoub performs at the Future of Healthcare Conference 2014 in Jack Adams Hall at SF State Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Eric Gorman/Xpress.

A band led by Mazin Mahhoub performs at the Future of Healthcare Conference 2014 in Jack Adams Hall at SF State Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Eric Gorman/Xpress.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., showcased an array of speakers, music and dancing. Stories of personal struggles and triumph through art therapy took the front stage at noon.

Melanie Choi, an SF State finance graduate, found herself heading down a toxic path and used holistic health and art to save herself from personal destruction.

“In the beginning, my healing process was just being drunk for four months. After that inebriated time, I was really reclusive,” Choi said. “Art is so powerful, when you put your intentions toward something so much magic is made.”

SF State cinema student Kristin Wingfield said that the event was a great way to approach music and art. “When they were talking about music and films, it’s similar to what I learn but has a more healing aspect to it, and it was really rewarding,” she said.

The conference blends art and health through its potential to heal people and create shifts in culture and society said Nick Moore of the holistic health department.

Burrows added the event is an art immersion experience for those who participate. Attendees threw themselves onto the floor to share the experience of dance, song and meditation.

“We are all artistic beings and owe it to ourselves and each other to share that,” Mauger said. “That’s what the conference is, pushing art into daily life and community, seeing it as key to health and living life.”

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