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Healing Kaleidoscope
January 6, 2013 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Emma Kunz was a telepathic healer and researcher. Even though she didn't consider herself an artist, the hypnotic symmetry found in her hand-drawn healing charts is breathtaking.
posted by shackpalace (36 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It might have been better to concentrate on her art. To ascribe medical effectiveness to activities like:

- finding "vibrational energy ... to realign the psychic imbalances underlying her patients’ medical conditions"
- using her art as an "aid to meditation for the locating of a patient's lifeline"
- discovering "the healing stone from the Roman quarry at Würenlos, ... named 'AION A.'"

is a disservice to the science. How ever sincere she might have been, she was a quack.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:27 PM on January 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


This museum sells bullshit "healing rock powder" and therapy sessions to misguided people seeking comfort. This is completely reprehensible and insulting to the intelligence. Kunz's drawings have a certain elegance and beauty, but art in service of mysticism and snake oil is the worst kind of art.
posted by oulipian at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Throw some AION A at her, if she ducks like a quack, she's a quack.
posted by biffa at 12:38 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think most people know that "telepathic healers" are entertainers at best; I really doubt the need for a "Disclaimer: Psychic powers not actually real." type statement.
posted by capricorn at 12:44 PM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Trial by fire here (first post). Lightning fast knee-jerks make for an entertaining read though. Just to be clear, i was simply prefacing the art links with what limited biographical information was available out there. The intention of the post was to focus on the drawings. Was not aware i had to post any disclaimer re: healing/telepathy.
posted by shackpalace at 12:48 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Folks, remember the secret here - flag and move on. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:48 PM on January 6, 2013


All of my friends who are currently into Zentangles will find this interesting.
posted by not that girl at 12:50 PM on January 6, 2013


...science doesn't care that Metafilter has a post about someone who considered herself a telepath.

That's not what this post is. This post is BY (not merely about) a person who considers her a telepath. We are communicating with that person to let them know that that's ridiculous.

If the person making the post did not think the subject was a telepath, then it wouldn't read "was a telepath" but "thinks she is a telepath" or "claims to be a telepath".

I don't think responding to the claims made directly in an FPP is out of line.
posted by DU at 12:52 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


This post is BY (not merely about) a person who considers her a telepath.

That you know that just proves telepathy is real!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:56 PM on January 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


the hypnotic symmetry found in her hand-drawn healing charts is breathtaking.

I really like those charts.

Man, I wish I still had a spirograph.
posted by dubold at 1:00 PM on January 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


To me new age/drug culture art is painful. Pictures of spirit animals, blissful lights and naked ladies printed onto canvas are the worst.

This I like a lot more, despite being sort of reminiscient of the geometric explorations of new age artists like Alex Grey. Perhaps it's because I'm a sucker for Modernism.

Shaun Kardinal does somewhat similar things with yarn over photos, which I also like.
posted by tychotesla at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lovely work here. I like to think of this stuff as the geometry of illusion. Or vice versa.

BTW, I saw some stuff in a cathedral in Nebraska that took my breath away. I refrained from going back to the monk's cloister to let them know that I thought their religion was just so much opiate strewn to the masses. Didn't have the heart I guess. Anyhow, the windows, especially, were stunning.
posted by mule98J at 1:06 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, I wish I still had a spirograph.

I knew you were going to say that...
posted by Kerasia at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of her drawings are quite nice, especially this one.
posted by clockzero at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2013


(not to completely derail, but here I go: I (an atheist) fucking love churches. They're fucking cool. They have history attached to their form, they have interesting lighting, they have neat color schemes, and the windows are even storybooks often. They're just really pretty and culturally rich spaces built for community.

I want there to be more stunning secular spaces like that. Libraries are pretty much that in Seattle, but there could be more!

Occasionally I go online window shopping for converted churches that I'll never be able to afford.)
posted by tychotesla at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kunz means "artist" not "healer." Her name reveals all.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:18 PM on January 6, 2013


OK, I admit I DNRTFA, but - is there real evidence (reliable independent witnesses) that "hand-drawn" is any more truthful than "healer" from this quack.

Because, if she used straightedges (as is likely), these aren't more breathtaking than my older brother's spirographs back in the day (as others have noted).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:23 PM on January 6, 2013


Um, geometry?
posted by gallois at 1:42 PM on January 6, 2013


"I think most people know that 'telepathic healers' are entertainers at best; I really doubt the need for a 'Disclaimer: Psychic powers not actually real.' type statement."

If only that were true.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:10 PM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because, if she used straightedges (as is likely), these aren't more breathtaking than my older brother's spirographs back in the day (as others have noted).

Yeah because if she used a straightedge, my five year old kid could have drawn that.

But he didn't. Emma Kunz did.

This is the constant whine of the non-artist. They see something an artist has spent a lifetime refining until it looks effortless, and think it took no effort.

Even a student of mechanical drafting, who has no artistic intent whatsoever, must expend considerable effort practicing with a straightedge and pencil, in order to learn how to place lines on paper with precision.

BTW, for the non-Philistines, I thought the second link, that put her in the Abstractionist category with Agnes Martin, was particularly interesting.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


re: disclaimers

I reacted to the phrasing: "was a healer" & "hand-drawn healing charts", which implied that was your description of her. If you'd said "self-proclaimed healer", or something similar, it wouldn't have gotten the same response.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


these aren't more breathtaking than my older brother's spirographs back in the day

True, but I think spirographs are pretty awesome, too.
posted by smoke at 2:19 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, I wish I still had a spirograph.

I've still got my spirograph. What I need is the round paper. I've erased these sheets so many times that they are disintegrating.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:21 PM on January 6, 2013


I used to draw these things on my graph paper in math class in middle school when I was bored.
posted by PigAlien at 2:21 PM on January 6, 2013


They see something an artist has spent a lifetime refining until it looks effortless, and think it took no effort.

James Rosenquist, artist, told me that he drew this Illy logo. "Really? How long did that take you?" Him: "Forty years."
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:27 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the constant whine of the non-artist. They see something an artist has spent a lifetime refining until it looks effortless, and think it took no effort.

Except that if you look at Kunz's drawings up close (that's the highest-res one I could find), there is nothing particularly accomplished or masterful about them. The line width varies all over the place, the symmetry is imprecise, the coloring is uneven. It doesn't look effortless, it looks labored and amateurish. Compare the details in her work to someone like Bridget Riley to really see the difference.

I've seen better and more thoughtful art made in Minecraft.
posted by oulipian at 2:52 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's funny you mention Bridget Riley. My art school had one of her first really important paintings right near the entrance to the museum. I got to look at it closely on an almost daily basis. When you become that intimate with a painting, you can really see how the artist painted it. That's why our art school bought it. Riley used masking tape to make her straight edges.

Where you see imprecise symmetry, I see deliberate asymmetry. Where you see uneven coloring, I see methodical, deliberate texture. Where you see uneven line weight, I can see purposeful variation. Sure there are errors. Colored pencil is a very difficult medium, I can see these drawings each took dozens of hours of intense concentration, some maybe hundreds of hours. Have you ever worked that long without making a single error? There are some lines that I can see an impression of the texture of the wood table she drew on. Is that an error, or a choice?

No matter what you think of the artist's aesthetics, or of her philosophy, if you can't recognize these as masterful works, you are only looking at your preconceptions.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:15 PM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not that these drawings aren't cool, but anybody with basic motor skills can accomplish these kinds of drawings with repetitive, easy-to-apply behavior. I really do think they're awesome, and highly recommend people learn more about these geometric constructions and how you can make them on your own with nothing more than a sheet of straight paper and a pencil. Vi Hart has some great examples on YouTube.

There's literally no need for the mysticism angle. Math is plenty awesome on its own, thanks.
posted by odinsdream at 6:00 PM on January 6, 2013


I want there to be more stunning secular spaces like that.

If you ever get a chance, visit the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh. There are some other awesome architectural links in this recent FPP.
posted by odinsdream at 6:03 PM on January 6, 2013


I don't see "masterful works" either. Not even close, really. I do understand the argument; I just don't think it applies in this case.
posted by Glinn at 8:13 PM on January 6, 2013


I, for one, really enjoyed her art. It's nice how it's self-similar yet asymmetrical. It's structured like music with variations on a theme.

The one with two people entwined in a grid reminds me of Alex Grey, but simplified. Another one reminded of this cross-stitch of a star I saw recently.
posted by foobaz at 9:23 PM on January 6, 2013


I don't think the intent behind these charts was finessed artistry. They were a means to an end for her. Part of a process. The simplicity in crude minimal repetition is beautiful to me. Characteristics i am often drawn to in music as well.
posted by shackpalace at 10:17 PM on January 6, 2013


Not that these drawings aren't cool, but anybody with basic motor skills can accomplish these kinds of drawings with repetitive, easy-to-apply behavior.

Right, your five year old kid could draw that. What you are saying, essentially, is that any 5 year old child could write great works of literature, because he can recite the alphabet.

If these drawings are easy, please show me one that you did. Compare it to one of her works. For example, in this drawing I selected at random, did it take nothing more than basic motor skills to choose the colors, to select which areas to color and which to skip, and what radii to use to set the proportions for the concentric circles that define the structure?

If these works are so simple, show me one you made, something with similar complexity. Then show me 400 of them, like the Kunz collection.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf: Because, if she used straightedges (as is likely), these aren't more breathtaking than my older brother's spirographs back in the day (as others have noted).

Yeah because if she used a straightedge, my five year old kid could have drawn that.

But he didn't. Emma Kunz did.

This is the constant whine of the non-artist. (blah blah blah insults)
Sorry, ain't buying it. The premise is that somehow this huckster produced these amazing drawings. But they aren't that amazing, and how she did them is utterly simple. The 1970s were fricking thick with them - nail-string art, and psychedelic art. Numerous non-Western folk art traditions use similar ideas. They just aren't that impressive.

Kadinsky, Braque, Grandma Moses - those are geniuses, whom the "philistines" often underappreciate. This is just a graphic design/scam artist.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2013


...and what radii to use to set the proportions for the concentric circles that define the structure?

I already said they were awesome drawings. I didn't bother saving any of mine from high-school, my mom probably did though, unless they've been lost in a series of moves.

In the drawing you linked:
1. Draw a circle. This is the one just inside the two interlocked squares.
2. Draw a line from top to bottom, then another perpendicular one side-to-side.
3. Bisect those angles a couple times
4. Darken a few chords that end on the points you made in 3.
5. Draw an inner circle that intersects the chords
6. Straight line between two adjacent eighths give you two nice squares
7. Circle around the square points
8. Fill in colors.

None of this requires even slightly complicated constructions, just a sheet of paper with a straight edge. I do really enjoy these drawings, though. I just think it's silly to claim some mystical angle here. Very, very cool things can be done with simple constructions. One of my current favorites is drawing deltoids with Wallace-Simpson lines, which is a very simple construction (simple as in, easy to understand and apply with minimal skill) with some really fascinating, beautiful results:

1. Draw a circle
2. Draw a triangle so all three points lie on the circle, continue the triangle edges out into space
3. Pick a random spot on the circle, then draw a line from that point to each of the three lines such that the line you draw is perpendicular to the triangle lines
4. All three spots where your perpendiculars intersect are themselves on another line (yay!!)
5. Repeat 3-4 with more spots progressing around the circle and you get a beautiful deltoid shape

This is so, so amazing, and requires no special skill or mysticism. You could definitely teach young kids to do these things, and the really cool part is it just leads to more and more questions about what you can do with simple tools and repetitive steps. The next time you go in an amazing architectural space you can't help but try and figure out how to build it all with primitives, it's a joy, really.
posted by odinsdream at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to draw these things on my graph paper in math class in middle school when I was bored.

therapeutic?
QED

The next time you go in an amazing architectural space you can't help but try and figure out how to build it all with primitives, it's a joy, really.

a joy?
QED


Her 1940s art will outlive me. Can't help wondering if she'd still feel as dedicated today if she were still alive. Doubt it. There's more to consider. People change. Legacy can be such an embarrassment.

I also wondered how many advanced cancer patients (back then) found a comfort and kindness in her art's distraction. Medicine didn't then have the sophisticated answers or the kindness. Who knew what was wrong? Even today: the unscientific Kübler-Ross model in the hands of a proponent practitioner leaves me cold.

We still rely on primitives.
posted by de at 2:50 AM on January 8, 2013


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