Arts & Culture

Blending Passions

A Journey of Healing And Art with Serenbe Resident And Artist, Gigi WIlborn

Have you ever had two passions that seem like they’re from separate worlds? Sometimes the things we enjoy don’t always make sense together, and that’s perfectly okay. On last week’s podcast episode of Serenbe Stories, we spoke with resident and artist GW Harper, otherwise known as Gigi Wilborn. She spoke with hosts Steve Nygren and Monica Olsen about how she blended her two passions together: painting and helping people stay healthy.  

Gigi shared her story, how she has always known she was a creative person, yet pushed that side away to focusing on becoming a nurse. She pursued a career as an emergency room nurse, instilling a strong passion for helping people become healthy. Gigi had a very successful career, getting involved with various practices such as trauma and has even jumped out of helicopters as a flight nurse. She also talks about working as a nurse during the pandemic, explaining how difficult it was to see people so sick due to the COVID virus.

Now Gigi is a nurse by day and a very talented artist by night. She started painting about three years ago when her husband surprised her with a starter paint set, complete with an easel, and booked her a hotel room for two nights to focus on her passion for painting - and she’s been painting ever since. Her talents grew as she practiced by creating artwork for her new home, since artwork can be a bit pricey. Years later as they were selling their home, to her surprise, people starting asking if her artwork was for sale. As she realized her paintings were actually treasures to the customers who’d purchased them, that did something to her; sparking an even deeper passion for art.

Her paintings are beautiful, layered, emotional creations that represent life as she experiences it. She began using abstract work using acrylics to get her feet wet, but her favorite is now mixed media on wood, finished in resin. She also works with wash and is learning oils, which she calls “a whole other beast”.

Gigi infuses a lot of subliminal messages in the layers of her work. She paints about topics that can be extremely deep, unfortunate or sometimes hard truths, but adds beauty and color to uplift that experience. She takes something bad and turns it to good. Gigi says, “I don’t like to just paint pretty pieces, I like to make something that actually has some type of statement”. One example of her work is a self-portrait she created of herself dressed in nurse scrubs with a mask on, working tirelessly to treat those affected by Covid-19. She took a “selfie” on the day she decided she was done with traditional nursing, done with being collateral damage. She shares how seeing patients say goodbye on iPads, constantly wearing a respirator and fighting for protective masks that could save her life were not the reasons she became a nurse. This experience made her face her own mortality, pushed her to quit and created a breathtaking piece of artwork.

Although Gigi is still passionate about helping people achieve better health, she explains how she wants to keep people happy and healthy, not just experience the negative side of healthcare. She wants to talk about helping people with wellness, improving their health before they get sick. So, she has combined her love for painting with her love for healthcare by opening IV Hydration, where she’ll be doing events such as “Drip and Paint”, where patients can infuse IV hydration while they paint with Gigi. Such a innovative idea combining her talents an passions into a new business.

Listen to Gigi’s full episode of Serenbe Stories anywhere you listen to podcasts.

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