Richard Cowling: Visual Art

Originally published on NurseManifest Website

The crafted pictures and statue arose from reflective synopsis of stories shared by nurses about what it was like to practice nursing. To put this in a historical perspective the time was almost 20 years ago and preceded the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent time reading and pondering the stories. I stepped back from them and allowed myself to appreciate the wholeness of all the stories, as I have done with despairing women.  Unitary appreciative inquiry and praxis is the process that I employed from my own way of being in nursing. What rose to the surface were sensations of intensity, gravity, sacredness, and longing in different forms and diverse experiences.  I am not an artist by any means – I don’t see myself being “good at it.” Except for the statue, the remaining works that produced themselves were simple collages from accumulated images saved over many years. I saved them because they were powerful to me and had no understanding of what value they would have in the future – I simply felt a deep appreciation of them on first sight. As for the statue, which is a cheap craft store angel that was chosen when I struggled to portray the dominance of pharmaceuticals in nursing expressed in stories and how this overwhelmed nurses. My own experiences and conscious understandings of what nursing was like for me were surely an influence in creating this art.  Why not be informed by the richness of my own knowing of nursing?  Somewhere in the process, during or after, the names for each piece of art emerged.  For me, the titles evoked the depth and beauty of nursing as it is practiced by the nurses whose stories I read. I will say no more – I don’t desire to explain them – I appreciate that they will have meaning in some form or other for anyone who sees them, particularly for nurses.



Ascent to Dead End


I was There


Lost Souls


Nurse Proof Fence


Paper Trails


Pulled from the Rubble


Sacred Gifts


Sacred Practice


About Richard Cowling

W. Richard Cowling, III, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, ANEF is currently Editor of the Journal of Holistic Nursing and an executive leadership consultant in nursing education.  He is also serving as Interim Director of the PhD in Nursing Program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.  For six years he was the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Chamberlain College of Nursing where he helped shepherd the implementation of the Chamberlain Care Student Success Model.  He is known for his academic leadership including overseeing a six-year major federal grant for promoting improved health care outcomes for diverse populations and creating a diverse faculty workforce.   Richard’s most outstanding contributions have been in the Science of Unitary Human Beings developed by Martha E. Rogers.  He is known for developing and applying a unitary appreciative nursing model to research and practice for women seeking to heal from experiences childhood abuse and despair. He has published and presented extensively through a variety of national and international venues.  Richard has worked with nurses to promote innovative approaches to holistic and unitary appreciative nursing practice and scholarship throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.  Richard is most proud of collaborating with Dr. Peggy Chinn and Dr. Sue Hagadorn in the creation and launching of the Nurse Manifest project seeking to mobilize and empower nurses through a call to consciousness and action.  Richard is certified as an advanced practice holistic nurse and was named in 2008 and the Holistic Nurse of the Year by the American Holistic Nurses Association.  He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and in the National League for Nursing Academy of Nursing Education, and Global