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21. Recovery

Artist: Bill Ganzel

Benefactor: Sponsor Name
Location: TBD

The inspiration for this proposal comes from the spiritual principles that animate Campus Life and the larger recovery community within Lincoln and eastern Nebraska. Campus Life has a half-century history of inviting young people to bring a Higher Power into their lives, in part, so that they can steer away from addictive choices that can threaten their health and their lives. For adults in Lincoln, there are hundreds of 12 Step meetings and recovery groups that share many of the same spiritual approaches as Campus Life. The applicant/artist anticipates partnering with one of these recovery organizations in the realization and siting of the completed work of art. 

I’m proposing interpreting some of what I consider core recovery principles through typography and applying those phrases to the sculpture of serving hands. This approach draws on a long and varied tradition of typography in art. I’ve been using typography in my own artwork for several decades. As you’ll see in the included front and back conceptual photos, the recovery phrases begin with expressions of the problem at the bottom of the sculpture, with more hopeful phrases evolving toward the top. The phrases are chosen from the AA Big Book, but are adapted so that they can be more universally understood and applied. Some of the phrases include –

  • Lack of Power was our Dilemma, wraps around the base of the sculpture. The choice of font is jagged and raw, evoking addictive cutting behaviors that some people engage in.

  • The Craving & Obsessions, refers to the phenomenon of craving and the obsession of the mind that create a downward spiral of addictive behavior. 

  • Were there no God, it would seem Life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere. This is a powerful thought written a decade before the Existentialist philosophical movement came into popular consciousness. The sentence will follow the life lines on both palms and expresses the hopelessness many addicts experience.

  • There is a Solution. When a newcomer or a troubled teen comes into a meeting room – whether Campus Life or 12 Step Programs – they will undoubtedly hear this message, and that is the beginning of recovery.  

  • We absolutely insist on enjoying LIFE!  There is no additional interpretation needed.

  • Abandon Yourself, Admit your Faults, Clear Away, Give Freely, and Join us & we will be with you. This phrase is adapted from the promises in “A Vision for You” at the end of the first section of the AA Big Book. 

  • Each day, somewhere in the world, RECOVERY begins when one addict talks with another addict. This sentence dominates the back of the hands. The typographical approach draws on Robert Indiana’s sculpture with stacked letterforms spelling out “LOVE.” 

  • SUDDENLY, is spelled out across the knuckles on the back of hand, echoing tattooed knuckles that often bear more dangerous messages. The word “Suddenly” appears in much recovery literature referring both to how addictive behavior can explode out of seemingly unimportant decisions, or how the grace of God can quickly flood in when we open the door. 

  • Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. This is one of the most famous and hopeful promises that spiritual programs can offer. ​