Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2018

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Page 15 of 31

WHO'S THE WOMAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY? Laura Sharpe was in a tragic helicopter crash on Califor- nia's Catalina Island on May 24, 2008, Memorial Day week- end. The horrifi c crash killed three others, signifi cantly in- jured two, and left her in a four-week coma. She endured 43 broken bones, spinal cord injury, brain injury, third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body, organ failure, 60+ surger- ies, skin grafts, near-loss of an eye, and partial amputation of her foot. For life-altered poly- trauma survivor Sharpe, it now marks ten years of a remarkable journey of re- habilitation and recovery. What is a life-altered trauma survivor? This is someone like you and me who is just living their life. "Trauma happens in an instant. It is unex- pected, devastating, and life-altering. If we are not victims ourselves, many of us know someone who has experienced a trau- matic experience. Disfi gurement, disability, and a long and diffi cult process of recovery are often results of trauma," says Sharpe. From the fi ery wreckage, Sharpe manifested a new life by channeling her creativity to cope with the excruciating pain and the long-term recovery process. "It's extraordinary what it takes for the body to heal. For the trauma survivor to stay in this process is a concert that results in a miraculous sym- phony," Sharpe noted. Out of a process of reinventing herself and with a driving compulsion to help others, Artists for Trauma was created. "Artists for Trauma is about focusing on the positivity, on the possibilities at a time when trauma victims are dealing with great emotion and physical stress. There is great op- portunity for quality recovery from life-altering trauma," Sharpe explained. She has just successfully completed curating a 4000 square-foot art gallery installation titled "Powered by Hu- man Spirit." This empowering installation features talented artists who are also fellow trauma survivors. This project is sponsored by California Rehabilitation Institute and Artists for Trauma. Visit www.poweredbyhumanspirit.com. Today Sharpe continues to push the boundaries in her physical and mental recovery. While running a busy non-prof- it, she is currently immersed in an intensive 18-month aca- demic program working toward completing her MBA de- gree from Pepperdine University. ART IS THE ESSENCE OF ME…. Fresh out of college, it should have been a joyous time visit- ing family, but June 11, 1993, turned out to be the darkest day of Cassandra Tang's life. Her sister was shot and killed by gunfi re in front of her and the bullets left her paralyzed and confi ned to a wheelchair. Tang started to channel her broken heart by sewing em- broidery that inspired her. She saw images of her younger sister in a peaceful place. Out of the darkness and into the light, she became a talented artist. "Art is the essence of me. I feel it in my heart, it gives me hope and courage to be better…do better.… I found my calling. My heart was broken, and everything was shat- tered.… I lost myself. Words cannot defi ne the way I feel and the emotion I go through but art is like no words, it is just a picture. It heals me and healed the core of my soul," Tang refl ects. THE REALISM OF RICHARD BELL Award-winning artist Richard Bell began painting in an art class back in 1990. His paintings have been described as being based in realism yet hold infl uences of eclectic impres- sionism and surrealism. A cata- strophic motor vehicle accident in 2002 left him a quadriplegic. Despite the lack of hand dexter- ity, he determined a way to cre- ate his images. "When you are fi rst injured your world is completely up- side down. Artists for Trauma is a group of artists who have experienced, and gone through trauma and all kinds of rehabil- itation. Any glimmer of hope that can be gleaned from seeing somebody else who is injured like you doing something can make all the differ- ence in the world," says Bell. Visit http://www.rbellart.com. "DANCING ON THE CANVAS…. I RAN OUT OF WORDS, I HAD TO PAINT" Tommy Hollenstein grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He had a mountain bike accident in 1985 that left him with a broken neck and life in a wheelchair. As part of his healing, CULTIVATING AROUSAL Photo far left: Laura Sharpe, Art upper left: by Cassandra Tang, Art bottom left: by Richard Bell, Art right: by Tommy Hollenstein, Art upper right: by Janelle Hinshaw, Photo bottom right: Courtesy of Artists for Trauma 16 wholelifetimes.com CULTIVATING AROUSAL ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA By Stephanie Rachel inspire Where Recovery Is an Art!

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