EMERY BLAGDON: THE HEALING MACHINE
Through April 6, 2014
Emery Blagdon, The Healing Machine.
Emery Oliver Blagdon (1907-1986) grew up on the Sandhills of Nebraska. The intense lightning storms of the Great Plains were a source of wonder for Blagdon, who pondered the immense power of lightning and other natural energies.
In 1955, Blagdon inherited an uncle’s farm and found he had a place to explore his interests as he chose. Having watched both his parents suffer terminal cancer, he hoped he might discover a way to heal pain and illness. Blagdon believed that the earth’s energies might be put to just such a use. He believed they held the inherent power to heal, and he set about making a “machine” to properly channel these powerful forces.
A pastime of bending hay-baling wire into geometric forms grew into a consuming passion for making increasingly complex constructions that incorporated salvaged copper wire, metal foil, magnets, vials of earth, waxed paper, and myriad other substances and materials to collectively charge and heighten the machine’s power. In the early 1960s, Blagdon began installing his fabrications in a barn on the property, later building a workshop with an adjoining shed designed to permanently house the entire machine.
Blagdon ultimately created a complex art environment in which paintings and mixed-media sculptures comingled with mineral elements and electrical conductors. Sufferers of pain or illness were invited in to let the unseen forces work magic. Blagdon called his project The Healing Machine, a work in constant progress wherein he fashioned, arranged, adjusted, and added to the complex installation every day for the next thirty years.
Blagdon’s Healing Machine, comprised of roughly 400 individual elements, is part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center collection. This exhibition presents individual components as well as an installation evoking the original shed environment.