Between two speaking jobs in Italy, I had a day off and with my interpreter, Cristina Finotti, we were put up in a hotel in Amalfi, on the coast. This is a beautiful city that would enchant any who came to romance Italy. While walking its main street on the left we were captured by a gallery displaying the ceramics and paintings of a young Italian artist by the name of Mirkò. We leapt into the gallery full of his works, stunned by their beauty and texture. I have collected art for a hospital I have been trying to build for 45 years. Art can be big medicine both by presence and provocation. I have been a family doctor for 45 years and have been deeply concerned for how unhealthy the mental health of the population in the United States. The psychiatric profession, spurned on by greedy pharmaceutical companies, is quick to give a psychiatric label for which the pharmaceutical industry is most happy to give an expensive medication for. Furthermore, the patient in the psychiatrist’s care would be forced to take this medicine for the rest of his or her life. It is rare in the psychiatric profession for them to suggest what keeps the few who are mentally healthy so sparkly: nature, the arts, friends, spirit, and a meaningful life.
When I stepped into the gallery I felt my whole life tingle with love, beauty, creativity, and yes, humor. So, I picked up a pair of tall ceramic vases that are the embodiment of human love and creation. I imagined sitting with a patient in our hospital, each of us holding a vase, maybe even humming, embraced by human love and ending any depression or loneliness. I am not romanticizing this; I am clear about the power of art to stop suffering. I know these pieces will be a part of what holds me up. And then the ultimate gift was an opportunity for us to meet Mirkò and his wife at a cafe and one could see we all four fell in love with each other. I instantly saw that the love, so vibrant in his work, was simply the play of his hands, eyes, and mind. And we became friends. Now I must quickly build our hospital around these pieces so that i can put them to work; a banquet for the soul.
– Patch Adams, MD