Healing the World, One Machine at a Time

In the six weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice celebration, the elementary children had the opportunity to contribute to an optional installation project.  We learned about the work of Emery Blagdon and his “healing machines.”


Emery Blagdon, a Nebraska native, lost several of his parents and siblings to cancer.  Out of this loss, he started to create healing machines– sculptures made of wire and recycled materials– which he believed could draw in energy to heal people.

The children pondered what, if they could make a machine that would heal the world, what they would like to change.  Each grade level started with a different foundation  for their machines, eventually all displayed together as one, large installation.

Below is a collection of pictures and quotes from the process and the culminating installation with all of their machines lit up with string lights.  On the day of the Winter Solstice, each class visited the studio and we made wishes for each other and the world, sending them off with the sounds of our voices singing.


*     *     *     *     *     *

“My machine heals cancer because my aunt died from cancer. She gave me my favorite lovey in my whole bed. When she died I took all the memories I had with her and put it in my favorite stuffy.”   —Olive, First Grade


Planning the design for the healing machine.
Many of the sculptures required help from friends.


“My machine heals diabetes like my brother. My design has a circle for life and triangles to show that sometimes you have to turn down a narrow way when things are not going well, but they will turn out better. The shapes that I am using, each one is a life and the color of it shows that they will get healed some day, some how.”

–Eva, Fourth Grade


The children thought carefully about how to represent their wishes for the world through their designs, use of color, and metaphor.




Some examples of 1st (paper plate), 3rd (wire hangers), and 4th (wood base) grade work.

My machine heals hunger. I see all these people on the street—mostly African American—selling things on the street just to get money to get some food. It makes me think, “What if I were like that?” Since I live in a house already, I think it would be really cool to live in the woods for a week with instructions. But if I didn’t have anything, like if we lived in a bush or something, then it wouldn’t be cool; it would be scary. It makes me feel I want to help them.”

–Gabe, Third Grade


On the day of the solstice, the children gathered in a circle in our studio.

“My machine heals sadness. Sadness is like a droopy willow tree with a bunch of snow on it. It is heavy and cold.” -Henry, Second Grade


They thought held in their minds what they wished to heal in the world.


One by one, children approached the “fire” and called out their wish by placing a candle at the altar.


“My machine heals sadness and darkness. There are some people who are really sad and I think they need to be healed from their sadness. I have a sun with warm colors on it representing light and happiness. It is surrounded by dark colors which is representing darkness and sadness. It shows you that you are not alone in the universe.”

–Fionn, 4th Grade 



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