When I think of what wellness would look like for me, in conscious and subconscious thought, I run through the cadre of marketing images I have eaten up in magazines and TV sets in waiting rooms, on tissue boxes and clipboards and pamphlets. There I find a recurring and visually striking theme of devotion, surrender, and reverence.  I found over and over in my research ads with a person in a familiar posture. The recurrent pose of both arms outstretched, palms out, head lifted, has been common in religious art of both ancient and Christian faiths. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this pose is called the Orant, a gesture used during prayer, painted in icons, and attached to sarcophagi of seekers of salvation.

Certainly this pose conjures of feelings of devotion. Additionally, it is a posture of praise, of exuberance, reverence, and waiting. It is a pose of dissociation. The offset, distant gazes and surrendering body posture imply an otherness. The other may be the authority of the medical establishment. We are asked to believe in the salvation medicine promises such that we open our bodies and hearts in posture and action. In this posture of surrender, we are offering ourselves while banishing critical judgment which might otherwise question the authority of the pharmaceutical and its claims. We surrender our questioning of the acculturated ideals of wellness.

In the images are a Sweet Wellness cake I had at the opening of my MFA show, a curtain that divided the space between waiting rooms and exam rooms, with 20 feet of wellness poses from actual ad campaigns, the X-ray lit images of my doctors who have taken the pose for my camera, and a group of visitors to my MFA show doing their versions of the “wellness pose.”