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Emery Blagdon’s Healing Machine

Emery Blagdon’s Healing Machines
Originally created in Nebraska now located at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Emery Blagdon (1907-1986) was born in Nebraska but drifted west, hopping trains, panning for gold, and doing odd jobs. He returned to the family farm when his mother fell ill. She, like his father and several siblings, died of cancer, which deepened Blagdon’s interest in a 19th-century treatment called electropathy. 

In the 1950s, Blagdon began creating “pretties” – delicate sculptures made from copper wire, magnets, aluminum, ribbon, beads, and castoff objects – which he combined with geometric paintings to form “healing machines.” Blagdon believed this work could channel natural energies, alleviate pain for onlookers, and even cure illnesses. He felt the work had a therapeutic influence on his own well-being, not unlike Isaiah’s own experience making mosaics. 

Over the course of 30 years, Blagdon created more than 400 pieces which are on permanent display at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin.

Emery Blagdon’s name appears in the mosaic in the courtyard near the main gate at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Resources:
Biography and photos
Virtual field trip (6 minutes, 2021)
Play The Healing Machine by J. Harvey Stone (2020)

Button & Top Photo Credit: The Daily Nebraskan