Click photo to enlarge
William Song presents his moving art work and powerful message at the Aurora Portal Art Gallery. The art program features five artists displaying a mix of paintings and sculptures. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Aurora Portal Youth Mentorship project.

BENNINGTON >> This weekend, leave your mind at home and witness works of art from five artists, all at 502 Main Street in Bennington. William Song from Seattle, will present his painting set titled "Ascension" and local artist Barbara Ackerman will showcase "Metamorphosis" with acrylic paint and ink on paper.

Song generated several paintings on canvas with oil paint, sometimes mixed with wax.

Ackerman also acts as a graphic designer at the Career Development Center and is a member of the Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester where her work is regularly exhibited. She prefers working with mixed media and studies pastel. Inspiration for her work stems from her passion for the outdoors, according to her biography.

Sculpture artist Tim Shay hails from Indian Island, Maine and focuses on his concept of Line Totem. It reflects the power of line not only in art, but also the current world and how we use line in language. He neglected to use any preliminary sketches or modeling and depends on the spontaneity of line with no measurements, according to his artist statement.

Other local artists include Jesse Walken, and Grace Stuart who works with weaving tapestries.

Aurora Portal, "Learning Another Way," is a creative and healing center for low income high risk children. Local filmmaker Fidel Moreno operates the space and named it after his grandmother, Aurora, his inspiration who was named after the Aurora Borealis.


The "Healing Art & Art of Healing" exhibit will bring together curated motives by the artists that incorporate an idea outside of the mind and ego and into a spiritual, soulful existence. Friday, Song will conduct a talk at 6 p.m. to the general public and reflect on his history of overcoming several hardships. Saturday, from 4 to 8 p.m., the studio will vibrate energy with many mediums including paintings, sculptures, and photos. A portion of the gallery's proceeds will help fund the center's initiatives. Wrapping up on Sunday, Song will lead a "Third Eye" meditation at The Yoga Place at 3:30 p.m., located above Panache and through the back entrance.

Song achieved the life of a lawyer, a husband and a father in the Pacific Northwest and after years of living a life consumed by a certain belief system, he was able to break from structured values and heal himself through painting, a love he gave up after college.

"The more successful I became, the unhappier I was," Song said. "There was so much pressure and people depended on me. I lived in a highly verified environment and felt like I couldn't breathe. I was thrust into where the mind could not find a way out and it affected every facet of my life."

After an inner conflict, Song was diagnosed with a rare spinal nerve condition that put him in crucial pain to the point where he could barely move on his own. Even after meeting the top specialists in the country, Song could only be treated with great amounts of medication. Within a year and a half, his family life had dissolved as his marriage and children also suffered from internal battles.

"It was like being caught in a force of nature. All you could do was hang on. The mind becomes frozen in that extreme crisis and I began to awaken and experience a deeper level of consciousness," Song said.

His work has been displayed in a handful of hospitals and cancer centers on the west coast, in which he explains would have a powerful effect on patients because of his focus on light and color. He said that he feels it in his body and paints through his body while his mind is silent.

"Every color is a vibration frequency," he said. "My paintings are a story about a process of healing and a life broken down through the energy of love. Painting is an activity of the heart's process. There's so much peace and joy in the act of painting. It began to open up doors for me and a series of experiences."

While Song traveled through his own journey of self-realization, he wishes observers will take in his paintings with the soul and heart rather than the mind.

Moreno met Song in Santa Fe, New Mexico years ago during a fire walk, in which participants walk across hot coals or rocks without burning the sole of one's feet. Moreno feels that this gallery can help heal and nurture the children he already works with as well as the community as a whole.

Even though the artists may have overcome certain life struggles, the art may not directly display such tragedy. Song explained that having dealt with his demons for most of his life, his paintings are pure and clean and have a similar energy to nature. He constructs layered paintings by returning to the work after years to paint onto the existing surface.

"I don't want to add to an expression that already exists," Song defended his work. "I dealt with that energy for years and I didn't need the pain to be expressed in my paintings. I felt something that was hidden and I see that as a stage in my life. It's a challenge to find true joy and peace in life."

The talks and open gallery are free and open to the public. The space is made available by support from several community churches.

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.