Linda DeHart knows that her latest project A Thousand Windows: A Long Walk in Beauty and its subsequent Colors in Motion DVD descendent have been a long time coming-70 years in fact. The 70-year-old daughter of an architect was recently asked to do a retrospective of her extensive career, one that includes large aerial sculptures for corporate and hotel lobbies, as well as a myriad other works, all of which, due to her architectural upbringing, have been created on a grand scale. “People that have known me for a long time are saying, ‘Whoa, all of the pieces are coming together now,’” says DeHart of the Colors in Motion project. But how it came about and its practical application is a bit more roundabout.

“My original concept for A Thousand Windows-4" x 6" paintings, configured five in a column and 200 columns long, on a 135-foot wall-which still is in place, is a person walking along that wall can start looking into the images and begin to feel themselves calming or feel themselves transform,” says DeHart. “A transformation begins when looking at these images, looking at the colors and maybe feeling that the scene is familiar-I like this or I like that. My idea is that, as soon as the mind can still itself from all of those preprogrammed patterns, we can get to a place of inner peace. That's really where healing happens-within ourselves.”

A Thousand Windows, though it hasn't yet found a permanent home, will hopefully be installed in a hospital or healthcare setting in the near future. DeHart, who created the piece to invoke healing, hopes that it will eventually serve that purpose in a healthcare building. Colors in Motion, however, has already taken on such a healing mission.

The Colors in Motion DVD project-the juxtaposition of all 1,000 images from A Thousand Windows against music-initially started as a way to present A Thousand Windows during DeHart's aforementioned retrospective. “I came up with the idea to take 100 of the images and synchronize them with a friend's music and gave that little eight minute audio visual as a talk for my retrospective,” DeHart says. It was at this retrospective that Colors in Motion found its motivation. “From that point on, my life changed. A lady, who turned out to be a doctor, came up and said, ‘My son is going to use this at the end of all of his talks.’

“Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. Dr. Rick van Pelt came the very next week and he saw what I was doing and saw the potential of how it could fit into his talk that he gives at hospitals around the world called, ‘When Things Go Wrong: Getting From It to Thou.’” The presentation that van Pelt gives is about medically induced trauma, a topic that he is passionate enough about to have started the Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS). However, given the often emotionally charged and tragic nature of the presentation, van Pelt needed a transition for the staff listening to his lecture to get back into a healing mind frame.


“His talk tends to upset people because all levels of staff have seen this kind of thing happening for years and have been powerless to do anything,” DeHart says. “At the end of this disturbing talk, he introduces this eight-and-a-half minutes piece that was at my retrospective, and introduces it as a way to calm those that he's upset in the audience. He wants to introduce a wonderful, artful way to bring people back to stability in their emotional state so they can get back to their jobs. He uses it as a transition and it's concretely worked every time he's given that talk. I've been totally amazed at what happened.”

From here, DeHart saw the great potential for the remaining paintings in the A Thousand Windows installation, selecting music for various sections of the DVD and commissioning pieces for others-an addition that DeHart says she never again wants to make art without. Colors in Motion was born; it's broken into 10 distinctly different parts and has the semblance of a storyline, uplifting patients as well as forcing them to confront things they may not want to otherwise-as DeHart believes, “My thought is that until we go to that deepest place that we've been avoiding, we cannot heal ourselves: our souls or our physical bodies.”

Given the success of Colors in Motion in van Pelt's lectures, DeHart is looking to hospitals, clinics, and hospices as places to utilize the DVD for its healing purposes. “The installation itself was designed [to heal] as opposed to art for art's sake and as opposed to it being just an object. That's why I know that it needs to be in a healthcare facility where staff, visitors, and patients can benefit from it.” HD

For more information on A Thousand Windows and Colors in Motion, visit http://www.dehartart.com.

Healthcare Design 2009 May;9(5):92-93