Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pain inspires art

Two Californians who have chronic pain have developed an online art exhibit so anyone who is disabled from chronic pain can post their artistic expression of the experience.

The NY Times Health blog wrote about the efforts of Sacramento resident Mark Collen, 47, who has chronic back pain, and San Francisco college student James Gregory, 21, who has chronic pain due to an automobile accident, to create the online Pain Exhibit.

Collen says he had a new doctor and struggled to communicate his pain to him. Although he's not a trained artist, he created a piece of artwork to express his pain to the new doctor.

“It was only when I started doing art about pain, and physicians saw the art, that they understood what I was going through,” Collen said. “Words are limiting, but art elicits an emotional response.'’

So Collen wrote to pain doctors around the world asking for examples of art from pain patients. He then joined with Gregory to create the Pain Exhibit, featuring the art of people in chronic pain.

According to Collin, the Pain Exhibit artwork is being used by health educators around the world, including physicians, nurses, pharmacologists, psychologists, social workers, art therapists and chaplains, to educate others about chronic pain.

The exhibit features several specific galleries on themes such as suffering, portraits of pain, pain visualized, "but you look so normal," God and religion, isolation and imprisonment, unconditional love and hope and transformation.