Untitled (Individual element from the Healing Machine)

Media - 2015.45.20 - SAAM-2015.45.20_1 - 121029
Copied Emery Blagdon, Untitled (Individual element from the Healing Machine), ca. 1955-1986, paint, aluminum, copper, foil, and wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2015.45.20

Artwork Details

Title
Untitled (Individual element from the Healing Machine)
Date
ca. 1955-1986
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
6 × 6 × 1 in. (15.2 × 15.2 × 2.5 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
Mediums Description
paint, aluminum, copper, foil, and wood
Classifications
Keywords
  • Allegory — arts and sciences — medicine
Object Number
2015.45.20

Artwork Description

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.