Are You an Artist in Pain?
The PAIN Exhibit is seeking art about chronic pain. PAIN Exhibit, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain through art and to give a voice to the many who suffer in silence.”
The organization was founded by Mark Collen as a result of his own chronic pain experience. Frustrated by his inability to adequately convey his pain to his doctor with mere words, Collen decided to let his art speak for him. He created a stark mixed-media piece featuring a photo of himself from the neck up––entombed in packing tape, except for a single eyeball. Below the image he wrote a poem about suicide.
For Collen, that picture was indeed worth a thousand words. At his next appointment, he showed the new artistic creation to his doctor. An article about Collen in The Monterey County Herald quotes him as saying, "I could see her eyes welling up. She understood. That did it. There was never a question in my pain doctor's mind after that." And from that point on, his pain treatment improved.
Spreading the Message
The idea of using art to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain grew out of that first successful experience. Collen's vision led to the creation of PainExhibit.org, an online art gallery that solicits and displays the works of artists who suffer with chronic pain. A New York Times article described the images in the gallery as “evocative and troubling.” Artwork from the PAIN exhibit gallery has been featured numerous times on the covers of pain-related medical publications.
Submitting Your Artwork
As the PAIN Exhibit site says, “Art is far more effective at communicating the pain experience than words. The pain experience goes beyond the actual occurrence of physical pain and encompasses the entirety of one’s life.”
If you communicate your pain through art and would like to submit your artwork to be considered for inclusion in the PAIN Exhibit, simply fill out the New PAIN Exhibit Entries submission form on their Website.