“Watching women recover from surgery and endure infusions, I came to view the ever-present IV pole as a human form.” –artist John Magnan.
body image | body essence is an exhibit by artist John Magnan, whose assemblage of sculptures was inspired by his wife’s struggle with ovarian cancer. The exhibit is currently displayed at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. This is how the website for the exhibit describes the origins of this art:
Using recurrent imagery of hair loss, Mr. Magnan explores the conflict between “who I am” and “what I look like” faced by women with ovarian cancer after its invasive surgery and follow-up treatments. His work also addresses other aspects of changed self image, both somber and lighthearted. Solemn issues of scarring, fatigue and fertility can be found in some pieces, but so can explorations of “chemo brain,” or hair that refuses to grow back the same as before.
In the end, however, the artist’s deeply personal journey transcends the individual to illuminate the universal.
This cathartic, educational and informative exhibit is a powerful commentary on the shared human experiences of health, sickness, death and personal triumph.