The art of healing

Artist Partridge to present work
at Village Lights Bookstore

She is headed to Afghanistan
to assist in art therapy

Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(November 2009) – For many people, the autumn months are a time of eager preparations. Some people begin to try out new recipes for Thanksgiving, while others look to get in some early Christmas shopping.

Debi Partridge

Photo by Lela Jane Bradshaw

Madison artist Debi Partridge’s painting
allows for a more opaque look with
strong colors than might be expected
from a watercolor picture.

Madison, Ind., artist Debi Partridge is in full swing getting ready for the next few weeks, but her plans don’t involve addressing cards or selecting a turkey. Instead, she is learning the proper etiquette for having tea with an Afghanistan village elder and packing art supplies to inspire children of a war-torn region. Partridge, in association with Women of Hope, will spend two weeks this November performing art therapy with women and children in Afghanistan.
“I started really feeling pulled. I asked God if this was the time I go to Afghanistan,” Partridge says of her decision.
It is a journey Partridge, 52, is uniquely qualified for. A veteran of 33 mission trips, including work in war-torn Serbia, she is well versed in the art of travel in service to a greater cause. “I’ve done a lot of workshops and disaster training,” she explains of her studies in the use of art as a healing tool.
This new adventure is only one of the many doors that have recently begun to open for Partridge. She is presently working on two books, “I Can Dance Alone” which focuses on finding healing after divorce, and an untitled work on her journey to Afghanistan that centers around women and the changes in their lives. Partridge is also presenting an art show, “New Art, New Beginnings,” from Nov. 13 through Dec. 8 at the Village Lights Bookstore, 118 W. Main St., Madison. The opening event for the display will run 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 with the artist speaking at 7 p.m. The show will include approximately 15 watercolor paintings that will also be for sale.
“We’re really excited about her meeting with the public,” says Anne Vestuto, who co-owns the Village Lights with her husband, Nathan Montoya. “We think it will open a lot of discussion.”
Vestuto highlights the “social aspect” of Partridge’s work. “We’ve never met an artist like her in Madison,” she says.
Partridge believes this is an important moment for Afghanistan, noting that the children are “just now going back to school.” She explains how the Taliban “took away all the art, literature, music, cinema, anything that would encourage creativity. If you were found with those items, you were usually killed, had your hands cut off, or were thrown in prison.”
She is looking forward to inspiring the children she will work with not only to paint and draw, but also to look toward education as a way to a better future. “Usually when I do my art, I try and talk about hope with children,” Partridge says. “Now that they are in school, I can talk about education.”
In one of the villages she will visit, the school tuition is 10 mud bricks that will be used in building the classroom. One activity she has planned is to work with the children to make the bricks and then decorate them with glass and ceramic tiles to create mosaics. She reflects on the impact the Afghanistan turmoil has had on the children,
“They’ve been robbed of time – you can never ask for time back.”
Partridge herself has been painting since she was a child. “My parents encouraged me,” she says with a smile, remembering her early days spent painting on paper bags and scrap paper. “I figured out my own technique of layering – kind of a dry brush technique.”
Her style of painting allows for a more opaque look with strong colors than might be expected from a watercolor picture. Since many of her paintings feature Indiana artifacts, birds and antiques, she takes special care to ensure accuracy.
“I do a lot of research making it correct,” she explains. Partridge describes her current work as “clean and simple, like my life now.”

• For more information, call (812) 265-1800 or visit: www.villagelightsbooks.com.

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