Whitehot Magazine

Britt Michaelian on healing through art

Britt Michaelian, courtesy Jason Mintzer Photography


By EMMA SEGREST March 5, 2024

In the crossroads of grief, spirituality, healing and art sits Britt Michaelian. Combining an output of creativity with deep-seated connection with the natural world, Michaelian has developed her own niche in art-making. Michaelian has always been a creatively inclined individual. She recalls spending her childhood fascinated with drawing, and watching others create art. This lifetime fascination and practice led her to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where, after meeting with the admission counselors and showing them her portfolio, she was accepted to the school on the spot. 

It was here that Michaelian obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts; she went on to earn her Masters in Art Therapy, and began her studies of understanding how art can heal the art maker. On a fundamental level, Michaelian understood that creativity and art provided mental healing. But it wasn’t until she was faced with extreme hardship in her own life that Michaelian was able to come to the understanding of just how deep and powerful this combination of forces could be. 

When Michaelian’s mother and sister both received cancer diagnosis, Michaelian stepped in to take care of them. Her mother’s diagnosis came first, and Michaelian felt her desire to create art begin to fade. After her mother passed away from the disease, her sister received her diagnosis. It was during this time of caring for her sister when Michaelian slowly began making art again.

I AM POWERFUL. I AM COMPLETE. Root chakra, solar plexus chakra_ grounding into personal power. Selenite, Theolite, Blue Apatite, Rose Quartz, Rainbow Fluorite, Sedona energy vortex soil, Acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”, courtesy Roberto Liera

“When my sister got sick she bought me these paint by numbers, the kind where you paint a giraffe or a horse,” says Michaelin. “She got me painting again, and I remembered how great it was to be creating again”

Michaelian was also studying Reiki, a type of energy healing that uses the healer's hands to move energy blockages or buildups in the body. Michaelian was on her way to becoming a Reiki Master when she had the revelation to combine Reiki into the artwork she was creating. In doing so Michaelian was able to create artwork that not only had visual interest, but was meant to offer a healing experience to the viewer. The first iterations of this combination went on to be part of the first Healing House event Michaelian produced.

Healing House is a project created by Michaelen that serves as both a display of her artwork and a wellness event. She describes the annual event as her “gift” to those who attend. The gift refers to creating a space that invites attendees to surrender to the energies around them and open their minds to experiencing a spiritual cleansing. To start the evening, Michaelian gave attendees each two crystals: one to purify and one to open their hearts. She then performed a sound bath meant to bring alignment and followed this with a guided meditation connected to the different chakras said to exist in the body. During the meditation Michaelian performed Reiki on attendees and then introduced her art. 

“I wanted them to experience the art not just with their eyes open, but before they really looked up close, I wanted them to close their eyes and experience the feeling and the sensation of the art,” says Michaelian. “I wanted people to come into an experience of two hours where nothing was expected of them other than for them to focus on love and healing.”

TRUTH IS MY PEACE. LOVE IS MY VISION. Throat Chakra Clear Communication. Selenite, Blue Apatite, Rose Quartz, Rainbow Fluorite, Acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”, courtesy Roberto Liera 

Michaelian’s art captures an abstracted sense of what spiritual energy may look like. Organic shapes and lines fill large canvases. Her use of texture and color makes her work reminiscent of the natural world. During the creation process she lets her intuition take over as she creates. Special herbal waters are sprayed on the canvas to reveal the colors beneath the top layer of paint and crystals are laid into the canvas as well. 

The earth itself is another important influence on these paintings. For her 50th birthday she visited Sedona, AZ, and had the opportunity to explore various natural energy vortexes that resided around the area. Energy vortexes are ley lines said to exist across the Earth, and when two of these ley lines cross an energy vortex is made. Michaelian explained that at the energy vortex she visited, there was a masculine side of the vortex and a feminine side.

I AM CALM. PEACE FLOWS THROUGH ME. Third eye chakra intuition and calm mind, peaceful thoughts. Selenite, Blue Apatite, Aventurine, Amethyst, Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, courtesy Roberto Liera

“We sat on the masculine side and the feminine side and I decided to collect a little bit of the soil on both sides and see what I could do with it,” says Michaelian. “I've been incorporating that into my artwork. I mix it in with the paint and I put some on top of the paint as well.” 

Michaelian wants her art to invite others to begin their own healing journeys, whatever form that may take. Her work is meant to offer an introspective experience that leaves the viewer with an expanded mind, and open heart. In the future she’d like to teach other artists ways to incorporate this spiritual healing into their own work. She imagines a world where there could be museums filled with healing art. For now, she’s starting with Healing House, an event she hopes she can continue to put on across the country. Michaelian also has a podcast called “The Daily Healing” where she shares daily practices to guide people in their healing journeys.

“I want to get this conversation out there for people to realize that viewing art is healing in and of itself, but viewing healing art invites you on this whole journey of creating a healing practice,” explains Michaelian. “When you heal yourself, that energy ripples out into the world.” WM

To learn more about Michaelian and Healing House, please visit her website: www.brittmichaelian.art and follow her on Instagram @brittmichaelian


Emma Segrest

Emma Segrest is an arts and culture journalist based in Chicago, Illinois. Her writing aims to celebrate the human spirit and shine light on artists whose stories resonate within her world and community. She is a passionate advocate for the power of storytelling and aims to highlight the importance of this mission across her work. She currently writes for ArtRKL and Tasting Table, in addition to freelancing.

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