An audio tour is a special thing. It’s a message in a bottle that stimulates or deepens interest in a something seen, whether that thing is an architectural wonder, a historic relic, or remnants of creativity. But sometimes the thing cannot strictly be “seen” with the human eye; sometimes it possesses the potential to be realized by a deeper kind of perception: empathy.
And if empathy is evoked, why stop there? Why not reach for an even loftier goal: inspiration.
Such was the goal of MossRehab’s All About Art audio tour.
We Are “Temporarily Able-Bodied”
One of America’s foremost centers for rehabilitation of disability, MossRehab treats thousands of clients in the midst of extraordinary stress, seeking a way to navigate their days with minimum pain and maximum elegance, seeking the highest quality of life possible while living with disability. Their dreams and desires are no different from those of us who don’t live with disability, but their obstacles are so much greater. And—as we learned—so is their mettle.
Upon entering MossRehab, you become immediately aware of the fact that most of us are only “temporarily able-bodied,” that we all will or have faced significant limitations to our abilities at some point in our lives. MossRehab challenges the able-bodied to lean into the powerful messages of the disabled experience and the critical wisdom there for all of us.
Messaging Through Art
One way MossRehab communicates this wisdom is with art of the highest caliber, created by accomplished professional artists who have lived with disability. The Susan S. Beneman Permanent Collection, on display year-round at MossRehab’s sites, features more than 340 works of art including watercolors, oil paintings, sculptures, collages, photographs, prints, pottery, and other mediums. In other words, their art collection is immense and diverse, much like the population it serves, including family, friends, staff, and clients at MossRehab and beyond. The audio tour Q Media created examines the work of 10 MossRehab artists with the intention of inspiring visitors to reframe their understanding of the experiences of people with physical disabilities.
Even the process of creating the tour reflected the powerful respect MossRehab has for its clients and the art they have created. From the moment the Q Media crew arrived at the Philadelphia center, we were joined by committed staff and board members to delve deeply into the artwork, collaborating to make the most of their insightful clinical perspectives and fine arts expertise.
Discovering the Spirit of the Audio Tour
As a nurse and rehabilitation insider, Julie Hensler Cullen, MossRehab’s Director of Education and Quality, offered a heartfelt viewpoint about the client experience and the worldview of those who live with disability. Board member Deborah Krupp, who works as an arts educator, shared creative insights about the subtle evocations of the art and its passionate expression. Their fingerprints are on every element of the tour, and their stories were our waypoints. As we walked through MossRehab’s art-covered hallways, Julie and Deborah shared the artists’ experiences and techniques with enthusiasm and appreciation, revealing the enormous artistic accomplishments and the very human experience reflected in each piece.
In fact, during our walk through the halls, we paused at one very compelling work, Jon Wos’s “The Reinforcer,” which is pictured above. A MossRehab staffer approached us and commented how the painting had always puzzled her, implying that the dark image of broken bones with the smiling man amidst them was mystifying and a bit worrisome to her. Julie and Deborah urged her to pause and look deeper while they shared their insights about Wos, the work, and its impact on them. Their revelations of optimism moved her and us. She smiled, leaned in, and admitted she would never look at the painting the same.
The message in this bottle became very clear: We all struggle. We all crave peace and love. We all have joy within us.
Persist. Imagine. Create.
Inspiring? You bet.
Click here to listen about the remarkable artist Jon Wos and his painting “The Reinforcer.”