Back to Healing Exhibit Opens at Cedars-Sinai
Mar 08, 2021 Katie Rosenblum
A new art exhibit opened at Cedars-Sinai this month. The "Back to Healing" installation located on the Plaza Level near Starbucks features 10 black and white photographs by New York-based artist Marcus John.
"This collection of portraits tells a story of struggle, strength and beauty that is just as unique as every individual portrayed," says John Lange, Cedars-Sinai's art curator. "The photographs are purposely composed as bold, powerful, singular figures that are slightly larger than life-size."
"I know from my years at Cedars-Sinai as a trainee how inspiring and healing the artwork here can be for our patients. This exhibit is a wonderful intersection of art and medicine."
Marcus, who also works as a creative director in high fashion, was inspired by a close friend with the affliction. Several years ago, he was asked to help dress her for a gala event but struggled to find a dress that she felt fit her unique figure.
"She had kept the condition hidden so well, I didn't know until that day that she had a curvature of her spine," says the Jamaican artist. "I was inspired then to do something to show the struggle of having scoliosis."
Scoliosis can be treated with braces, but severe cases require surgical correction.
"Remedying scoliosis involves major corrective surgery, surgeons with special training and instruments are required," says neurosurgeon Dr. Lindsey Ross. "Not everyone has ready access to this level of clinical management, even in this country."
Dr. Ross was instrumental in bringing this exhibit to the halls of Cedars-Sinai. She met Marcus through acquaintances in spine surgery and recognized how unique his creativity and vision were.
"I know from my years at Cedars-Sinai as a trainee how inspiring and healing the artwork here can be for our patients," she says. "This exhibit is a wonderful intersection of art and medicine."
The display was timed to coincide with Black History Month. In addition to showcasing a Black artist, the work shows the diversity of those afflicted with scoliosis.
"The face of scoliosis is often young white people," Dr. Ross shares. "This condition is diverse and impacts people of all different shapes, sizes and colors."
The show also highlights the mental health struggles that often accompany a difficult medical condition.
"You never know what people are dealing with. Mental health can be as invisible as can scoliosis. Both can easily be masked," says Marcus, who runs a foundation also called Back to Healing that helps support people facing scoliosis.
He hopes that people dealing with a medical problem can be inspired by the portraits.
"Scars from surgery can leave people feeling self-conscious, but I want people to see the confidence in these photos," he says. "I want to highlight and celebrate their stories."
Dr. Ross hopes staff, patients and visitors will visit the exhibit before it closes in June.
"I hope people recognize scoliosis as a diverse spinal condition and that illness does not define who we are," says Dr. Ross. "We want our patients and community to come away from this exhibit feeling empowered and inspired irrespective of the challenges they may be facing."