Sara Balbin – Dragonfly Studio, Drummond, WI » Art Gallery

The Healing Tree

The Healing Tree sculpture was designed to support the mission, vision, and integrity of the Marshfield Clinic, to serve patients. The Rice Lake Oncology Department’s “Healing Garden” supports those men, women, and children who participate in this healing opportunity. I am honored to also serve in this mission with my design that incorporates the wisdom of the Ojibwe in conjunction with my own creative philosophy.

The Healing Tree creation is founded on my long term friendship with the Lac Courte Oreilles band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, the Anishinaabe, or Original People, who reside in Sawyer County near Hayward, Wisconsin. I reached out to my friend Ernie St. Germaine, an Ojibwe, retired Judge from Lac du Flambeau, family man, father, and founding participant of the American Birkebeiner who provided me with Native American knowledge and the traditions of the maple tree.

Ernie and I share Old Pwaagan, “Pipe” Moustache, as a common friend, spiritual guide, and mentor. It was Pipe who guided me over decades as I painted thirty-two Ojibwe Elders that were featured in the book, Spirit of the Ojibwe; Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders. According to Ernie, Pipe would often say when answering someone’s question: “You honor me by asking your question, because it jogs my memory and it takes me back to a time and place where I’d rather be, back among the old ones who taught me well.”

Ernie explained, “When you say ‘nanaandawi’iwe,’ you are talking about those healing men. If you add, ‘iikwe,’ those are the healing women. But you would be saying so much more than that. You would also have to refer to the ‘mashkeg,’ the swamps, where the most powerful medicines dwell. Or, ‘mitig,’ the trees, from which comes the power of life and of course, ‘nibi,’ our sacred water. When you want to talk about healing, you might say, ‘noojimo’iwe,’ to cure. ‘Noojimo’iwe mitig’ is ‘the healing tree’.”

The Healing Tree design:

–The upward extended arm is the maple tree, Noojimo’iwe mitig, the healing tree known for its nutritional and medicinal properties.

–The forward extended arm holds a rock cairn that provides focus for finding the path through the spiritual, social and medical journey.

–The dragonfly reflects metamorphosis, that is, the changes in physical, mental and social dynamics along the medical path.

–The roots flowing over the rock base signify ancestors and their connection to family.

-The rose stone base represents origins of human kind in the natural environment.

“Miigwetch,” as the Ojibwe say, thank you for the opportunity to design, fabricate, and display “The Healing Tree” sculpture that will touch the hearts of many who contemplate their medical journey in The Marshfield Clinic’s Healing Garden.

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