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Untitled (Individual element from the Healing Machine)

ca. 1955-1986 Emery Blagdon Born: Callaway, Nebraska 1907 Died: Callaway, Nebraska 1986 paint and wood 6 × 3 1/4 × 3/4 in. (15.2 × 8.3 × 1.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Dan Dryden, friend of Emery Blagdon 2015.46.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
1st Floor, West Wing

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From the late 1950s until his death in 1986, Emery Blagdon created a constantly changing installation of paintings and sculptures in a small building on his Nebraska farm. He believed in the power of “earth energies” and in his own ability to channel such forces in a space that, through constant adjusting and aesthetic power, could alleviate pain and illness.

Blagdon used found materials like hay baling wire, magnets, and remnant paints from farm sales, but he also sought out special ingredients like salts and other “earth elements” through a nearby pharmacy. He called the individual pieces his “pretties,” but collectively they comprised The Healing Machine. Blagdon worked on his Healing Machine for more than three decades, tending, tinkering with, and reorganizing its components every day and, in his own words, “according to the phases of the moon.” He believed it was a functional machine in which energies were drawn upward from the building’s earthen floor into the space, where they could bounce around and remain dynamic.



Allegory - arts and sciences - medicine


folk art

About Emery Blagdon

Born: Callaway, Nebraska 1907 Died: Callaway, Nebraska 1986

More works in the collection by
Emery Blagdon