Beautiful success

From left, nursing staff members Tammy Culp, Lexie McKevitt, Pearl Chiang, Janice Lori and Nancy Bonello.

Matheny nurse Pearl Chiang’s October art exhibit, “Life is Beautiful,” at The Bridgewater, NJ, library has ended, but the memories of it will linger for those who attended. As previously reported, the display consisted of 30 paintings, which were rotated because the space available could only hold 10.

The exhibit was supported by Chiang’s many coworkers among the Matheny nursing staff and was highlighted by visits from her parents and other relatives from her native Taiwan. Chiang moved to the United States from Taiwan 22 years ago.

In the fall of 2011, she had a 38-painting exhibit at the Art Yards Café in Taipei. And she recently enlisted a group of high school students to assist her in completing a mural, “Paradise,” in the children’s dining room at Matheny.

Pearl’s paradise

Volunteer painters in front of the new kitchen mural, from left: Christian Cook, son of Matheny adult services instructor Claire Torsiello; Audrey Lee; Chiang; Amy Ho; Nicole Schroeder, daughter of Matheny personal care assistant Imelda Schroeder; and Brian Ho.

When Matheny’s dining room committee decided the children’s dining room needed a new look, they called on Pearl Chiang, a nurse at Matheny, who is also a professional artist.

Chiang created a concept called “Paradise” and then recruited young volunteers — including her son and daughter, Amy and Brian Ho — to transform the idea into a mural, using her sketch as a guide. The five teenage volunteers finished the mural in three days.

Rainforest mural teaches and inspires

Anthony Galati is a Morristown-based artist who discovered Matheny through a friend who works as a facilitator in the Arts Access Program. He decided to paint a mural in one of the elementary classrooms of the Matheny School and started the project in June 2010. “I came in to paint it on weekends, when the kids weren’t in the classroom,” he says. “It took 116 hours.”

The painting, which has a rainforest theme, was completed in September 2011. The rainforest idea, he says, “seemed like a universal thing that most of the kids would get excited about. I thought it could also be used as a teaching tool. I researched the rainforest and made sure that all of the animals that I chose for the mural are found in the rainforest. Also, each of the plants is a rainforest climbing plant that actually grows on trees the way I painted it. As I was aware of the visual challenges faced by some of the children, I used a lot of contrast to make the image as clear as possible for them.”

Although Galati describes himself as “predominantly a realist,” he admits to being “increasingly attracted to the mysterious. I don’t believe there is a need to see one kind of expression as any more valid that another. They are all different languages that the artist is using to convey something; whether realism or abstract, it’s all art.”

Drawn to the idea of utilizing art as a method of healing, Galati also believes that “few things are as good at relieving stress and putting you back in touch with yourself as making some form of art. You never know how something you create may positively impact the lives of others.”

Anthony Galati’s website: