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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time to Care

When I was a little girl I would stare for hours at the wooden clock upon the wall.  I found it quite intriguing.  The clock was a little house with a bird that would dip its beak outside its window and cuckoo upon the hour.  A little wooden boy and a little wooden girl would meet in front of their doors and share a kiss and then depart. The clock seemed magical and full of hope.  The sun would always rise, the birds would always tweet and the girl and boy would always kiss.

But life is not like wood-work clocks with metal pinecone counterweights.  Life is unpredictable and sometimes you wake up to find the time piece is still ticking but the boy is lost forever. 

And that is how Chiara Bell found me, a lonely widow with a broken heart that refused to stop ticking. She found me with a tweet, asking for a jacket painting like the paintings Jen McCabe wore. I painted her “Caregiver’s Clock.” I painted soul crushing pain upon her back.  Here was a clock with no hands to sooth you.

Chiara and Regina

Time passed and Chiara tweeted.  I saw her walk away from her first company in order to build a second.  She told me the new company would be called Careticker.  She wanted to create a company that would make it easier for patients to plan discharge transitions and would allow active communication between the care team and approved family members via text messaging. She asked me to paint once again and I was inspired by the name of her new concept.  I asked her, “What do you know about the origin of the ticker tape machine?”

The ticker tape machine was the first digital electronic communication technology to be used in the home. It utilized paper and telegraph lines to print out stock quotes, and like an erratic clock, it ticked; hence, the name ticker tape.  It revolutionized trading, for suddenly, one did not need to be on the trading floor to make decisions in a close to real-time fashion.


So I painted this canvas for Chiara.  In the background, spool upon spool of ticker tape cascades.  To the far left, a family vignette includes a wealthy mother, loving daughter and family nurse as they quietly read the stock quotes spooling amongst them.  To the far right, a modern mother rests in the comfort of her home with her little son beside her.  She is reading a text from the hospital as a nurse responds via Careticker.  A large image of a smart phone unites the two scenes with streaming texts on the care condition of the patient.

A few months later Chiara came to DC to attend the mHealth Summit.  I asked her if I could share her booth space.  Chiara was presenting in the start-up pavilion and Greg R. Itzenson from our host StartUp Health, offered me my own space beside Chiara.  So that is how I came to represent and the Walking Gallery and paint on site at the m-Health Summit.


Over three days I painted five jackets.  One of the jackets was for Chiara Bell.  It is called Careticker and it is a happy jacket.  Here the clock of my childhood is transformed.  The background roils with spool upon spool of tape.  To the left is the red-hued past filled with a lack of data access, to the right is a blue serene future. 

The Clock Face
Centered is the clock.  Its pendulum swings back and forth, as we totter to the future while lapsing into the past.  The classic cuckoo door is wide open and the bird has been replaced with a triumphant patient.  Center on the clock face is a smart phone.  Here is communication in real-time. Here is a new world of care.

So Chira Bell has two jacket paintings focused on time: the pain of time that has stopped and the joyous flight of time when we are with our loves.  That is just and that is right.  For I know the origin of the word “clock” it hails from the Celtic “clagen” meaning “bell.”  If there is anyone I would trust to ring the bell, either in peals of rejoicing or tolls of warning, it is Chiara Bell.    

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