Thursday, June 13 2024 - 9:33 AM

Sharing Christ Through the Arts

a painting by Esther Wilhelm
The Struggle, by Esther Wilhelm Pridgen

Art that Heals

There a side of art that can be therapeutic. Hawaiian artist, Esther Wilhelm Pridgen, uses her art to tell stories and promote healing. A member of the Oahu Church Of Christ, Wilhelm is committed to helping those who have experienced loss to move toward restoration and renewal. We asked Wilhelm to summarize her story for our readers:

Editor – Esther, you have a unique story that is tied to your art.

Esther – “My painting started after I was injured in a hit and run car accident in October 2007. I was told that a disk in my neck was butting up against some nerves, that I would be living in chronic pain, and that they would not be able to operate. I fell into depression because I was an athlete who played on the church basketball team with my husband. Working in the teens ministry we had hikes and camping, trips to theme park, all night prayer events, and all this required being active. Because I was unable to do the things I loved–I struggled in my walk with God.”

“I felt like God could no longer use me. Because I was bedridden, I lost my job working at Easter Seals, and I needed to see the doctors daily for treatment. My husband had to to take off frequently to drive me to treatments. So his work at the bank, where he had been for eight years, suffered. They felt he was taking too much time away from his job, so they let him go. Our house fell into foreclosure and we were forced to move to another place. My husband decided to try his hand at carpentry–after all, Jesus was a carpenter. But after working all his life in an air conditioned office, he decided that carpentry was not for him. So he decided to go back to school, and he asked if I would like to take some classes with him. I quickly refused because I felt like I was following my dream–my calling, and I did not want to consider that God might have a plan B for my life.”

“One day, three years into my husbands ARC and CAD program, I decided to visit him at the college during his lunch break. At that time I was still in pain, but was able to walk with a cane. I got into the building, but I didn’t know which floor he was on. So, I just guessed he was on the third floor. As I walked down the hall peeking into the rooms, I saw an instructor exiting her classroom, and I asked her, shyly, if she knew where the CAD class was. She looked at my cane–as many did, which I hated, and told me they were a floor above, and that I was in the Art department. I don’t know why I did this, but I said, “can I ask you a question about art?” She simply replied, “step into my office, young lady.” I told her that I had attempted to paint, but every time I finished I would throw it away. She encouraged me to sign up for her class the following semester, which I did, and my life has never been the same. My paintings from then were about my childhood and my abuse–which made them raw and true. For me painting is like therapy–which helps me heal, along with prayer. Suddenly I was able to reach people once again and share God and my faith through art. I get emails from around the world from people who have seen my work and tell how it has helped them. To God be the glory.”

Editor – Wow. That is so powerful. Thank you for sharing with us, and may your art continue to touch people who are struggling.

View more of Esther’s art online

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About Esther Wilhelm and Rich DuBose

Esther Wilhelm Pridgen

Esther Wilhelm

lives and paints in Hawaii.

Rich DuBose

writes from Northern California.

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