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Exhibit Showcases Artworks Inspired by War, Pain, Healing

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 General News J E 4
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CHICAGO, May 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A sniper's bullet drills into a human body. A buried land mine blows up under a passing armored vehicle. A rocket, spewing shrapnel, crashes into a compound.

For many caught up in the turmoil of war, their lives change in an instant. Helped by advances in battlefront medical aid and improvements in body armor, they are still alive but often they are badly wounded.

To prepare themselves for a future, they need to rely as much on a resiliency of spirit as on medical intervention.

A national touring exhibition, featuring works both by artists who have been struck by an orthopaedic condition and by the physicians who treat them, will be presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., from June 1 through August 31, 2011.

Titled Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements, the juried exhibition has been organized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, based in Rosemont, Ill. The presentation includes 107 artworks by 77 artists, including 10 from the Chicago area and one from Urbana.

Admission is free.

All of the artists in the exhibition have explored complex feelings towards musculoskeletal wounds, often involving the loss of limbs in war. The contributors include military personnel who live with orthopaedic injuries, family members who help the wounded through their recovery process, and military surgeons who treat wounded soldiers and civilians affected by the random cruelties of war.

In recent years, the survival rate of injured soldiers has risen from 74.6 percent in the Vietnam War to 90.4 percent in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, those who survive often suffer from traumatic orthopaedic injuries. In the decade of American conflict since the September 11, 2001 attacks, more than 36,000 service members have suffered battle-related injuries. Those who lose limbs must learn to live again both physically and psychologically. Art by such patients reflects their orthopaedic pain, their frustration, their hope and their path to recovery. The artworks by orthopaedic surgeons illuminate their compassion, the complex art of healing from such wounds and how orthopaedic surgeons make a difference in the lives of the people they lead on such journeys.

In addition, many of the difficult medical lessons learned on the battlefield have been refined to help save lives and limbs of patients in peacetime.

Among the media used in the juried exhibition are painting, photography, digital art, clay, watercolor, sculpture, lithographs and mixed media.

As a U.S. Marine deployed to Iraq, Kevin Cavanaugh of Wheaton, Ill., created "March 23, 2003," his abstract vision of the wild images of fire and flames protruding from oil wells and burnt-out vehicles as combat ground troops crossed the UN border between Kuwait and Iraq. "Some may argue that our very mission in Iraq is abstract," Cavanaugh says in an artist statement. "So, this image of the war torn nation is very much like reality." A watercolor, "Boots of a Fallen Soldier," by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Matthew L. Jimenez of Wheeling, Ill., reflects lessons he has learned while caring for veterans with lingering problems from wars ranging from World War II to Iraq. Addressing the "universal effects of war on the people in the regions involved," Ario Mashayekhi, a Chicago-based artist who immigrated from Iran in 1978, notes that "war has been walking with humanity like a shadow since the beginning."

His works include haunting sketches of wounded soldiers who return home with physical or mental impairments that divide them from loved ones. Families don't choose these circumstances, he says, but they must deal with them on a day-to-day basis, often turning to art to record the nuances of their struggles.

The exhibition and its 110-page catalog are offered as a tribute to the heroes who have served their countries in wars throughout the world. "The art," the catalog observes, "celebrates the strength and spirit of the injured troops, wounded civilians, and their families, as well as the commitment of orthopaedic surgeons who assist them on their journey to recovery."

Chicago is the fifth stop on a national tour. Previously, the exhibition was on display in New Orleans, the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington, DC, Baltimore and the National Museum of Health and Medicine and at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After Chicago, the show will travel to the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and the Evans Army Community Hospital and Soldier Family Care Center in Fort Carson, Colo.

The jurors for the show were Nina Weiss, Adjunct Professor at Columbia College, Chicago; Christine Robb, Interior Designer-Art Consultant, Artists Concepts; and Dominick Paparella, DO, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery and Associate Chief of Surgical Services at the North Chicago Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Exhibition hours are:

  • Monday through Thursday:  8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday:  8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday:  9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday:  10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

With more than 36,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org or www.orthoinfo.org) is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal health.  Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues.  An advocate for improved patient care, the Academy is participating in the Bone and Joint Initiative to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life.

www.facebook.com/AAOS1

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www.woundedinactionart.org

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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