February 24, 2014
How Art and Patch Adams’ Words Inspired Lasting Happiness
Guest Post by Vivian Ching
Behind every painting is a story that is waiting to be expressed by the artist, with the colors and imagery blending together into a dynamic life of their own. My story actually began when I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. I became involved with the University Programs Council as Chairperson of the Speakers Committee, where I was in charge of orchestrating large-scale lectures by globally influential speakers. Little did I know, one particular speaker would continue to inspire me forever.
His name is Dr. Patch Adams, simply known as Patch, a world-renowned doctor and founder of “Gesundheit Institute,” a free hospital facility that uses clowning and humor as a healing practice, and whose pioneering healthcare model inspired the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Patch Adams” starring Robin Williams. As an admirer of his meaningful cause, I wrote a very moving letter inviting him to share his experiences with the university community. In his speech, there was a particularly poignant moment where he presented footage of a small group of adults in a tiny African village, laughingly chasing after a dozen colorful balloons held out by a Gesundheit medical volunteer from a moving truck. This really touched my heart – that something as ordinary as giving away a colorful combination of balloons could bring so much hope into another person’s life, and that the power of the colors expressed from these conventional balloons was such an effective universal language of happiness.
Later that evening, Patch and I had a deep conversation over dinner about the meaning of life. He asked me what I wanted to do after graduating. Patch had chosen to do so through the medical profession, however I dreamed of making a contribution to the world with my creative talents. Though at the time, I did not know how to proceed in making this come true, I will never forget what Patch aptly said to me as his parting words that faithful evening – “Remember to choose your dreams.”
After I graduated, I started working in New York and an experience I had with someone close with me at the time forged a very deep impression in my life. When we first met in college, I had thought that this person was very shy, kind, quiet and timid. However over the years, his exterior mask slowly disintegrated, revealing his inner self to actually be deeply negative, pessimistic, depressive and unappreciative of the world and those around him. Eventually, this chilling side of his personality took over completely and not only did the destructive behavior affect him, it deeply affected the way he treated those who were closest to him – his family, friends, colleagues, especially me. My life was shrouded by a fog of darkness as he continued to drown in his vicious pool of negativity, refusing to resolve his discontentment while dragging me along with him on the ride. For the longest time, I could not understand the source of my unhappiness. How had I let my negative surroundings affect my emotions in such a way?
One day when I was organizing my shelf, I found the book that Patch had given to me the day we met, and the message he wrote to me struck out like a lighting bolt – “Choose your dreams.” Those words gave me a renewed sense of encouragement and a recall of my happy personality. It was then that I decided to pick up the missing pieces of my life by moving back to Hong Kong. I told myself that I needed to gear up, and to finally take action in pursuing those creative talents that would allow me to make a more positive impact in the world. I continued to top up my education, gained valuable work experience in the commercial field and channeled my experiences into inspiration for expression in the creative arts – just as I dreamed I would and had a deep passion for.
Through art, I found my happy life again. Thinking back on my experiences in New York and what the colorful balloons did for the African villagers, I ultimately understood the power of “like-attracts-like” – that happiness is a choice and surrounding ourselves with positive messages can indeed attract a happier mindset and lifestyle. Based on this concept, I began utilizing the psychology of colors and integrating positive themes into my artwork to share with the world. As art has the ability to open up windows into another dimension, my paintings offered a glimpse into the colorful world that I often dreamed about and saw in my head, and I noticed that people could genuinely share my happiness through my relatable artwork creations.
To continue passing on this message of hope and happiness, I have also used my artwork to help raise funds for various charities including Cambodian Children’s Fund (see top image) and Power of Love Foundation, in order to provide free healthcare and education to underprivileged children. Just as Patch gave back to the community, I too hope that the positive themes portrayed in my artwork can help to inspire more optimism to the world. I will always cherish Patch’s words to me as the longstanding foundation for all the colorful themes conveyed in my paintings.
Vivian Ching is an emerging Hong Kong-based artist who specializes in contemporary abstract artwork through the creative use of vibrant colors and hard-edge imagery to express optimistic life philosophies. Having lived in various continents around the world while maintaining a diverse professional background including a PhD in Operations Management currently in progress from University of Warwick (UK) as well as other degrees in Finance, Economics, Anthropology and Law; Vivian draws on such wide-ranging experiences as the main inspiration behind her unique artwork. Vivian’s paintings have been featured in exhibitions, charity auctions, newspapers, magazines, TV commercial/music video, radio interview and other TV programs. Please refer to her website for more details and news of her artwork.