Meet the eMotion artists

By: Carolyn Rogers

By Carolyn Rogers

More than 200 pieces of artwork comprise the eMotion Pictures art show, an exhibition of art created by orthopaedists and their patients. Here are four you should know about.

“Children of Glass”
“I was always strongly attracted to glass as a child,” says Jon Wos, an Oshkosh, Wis., painter and sculptor. In retrospect, this makes sense.

Mr. Wos was diagnosed at birth with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a genetic condition in which the bones are brittle and imperfectly formed. Children with this condition are frequently described as “children of glass.”

Because of his OI, Mr. Wos’ child-hood was filled with trips to the hospital for fractures, body casts, and surgeries. As a child, he was frustrated with his disability, he says. But time, maturity, and his art have transformed him. “

Although mobility is an issue for me, art has enabled me to become self-sufficient,” he says. “Without art, my life would not be as fulfilling as it is today; conversely, without my life as it is, my art would have no soul.”

Three of Mr. Wos’ artworks were selected for the exhibition. His sculpture, “Imperfect Bone Origin,” won the eMotion Pictures award for “Best in Show.” The dramatic blown glass and ceramic skeleton self-portrait chronicles his long history of fractures and surgeries.“

It has all 206 bones and contains the actual plate that was in my femur as a child,” he says. The location of every fracture he’s ever had, now healed, is marked with gold.“

This piece is a tribute to human ability, specifically the human ability to create and overcome,” he says.

Jon Wos, whose sculpture “Imperfect Bone Origin” won “Best in Show.”

My camera, my friend
When Elinor “Elke” Schoenfeld, PhD, was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) 17 years ago, photography was key to her pain management program.

“The process of being behind the camera provided me a vehicle to participate, once again, in activities that I might otherwise avoid because of my physical limitations,” says the epidemiologist.

Dr. Schoenfeld’s CRPS condition worsened after she suffered injuries to the disks in her neck and back in a 2004 automobile accident. The symptoms of CRPS usually manifest near the site of an injury, either major or minor, then often spread beyond the original area.

Throughout it all, “the camera remained my friend and companion,” she says. “Each time I have trouble getting out of bed, my physician, therapists, and my husband encourage me to go take pictures and to see the world.”

The black and white photo on display in the eMotion Pictures exhibit, “Hiking in Heaven,” documents her trek across ice fields in the Canadian Rockies. “I keep this photo as an ongoing motivator as I continue my recovery process” she says.

Embracing art again
Native Oregonian Nancy Tongue is a registered nurse who returned to her love of painting full-time some 17 years ago. The celebrated artist spends her days capturing color and light through bright impressionistic oil paintings, but was forced to take a reprieve from painting due to cervical spondylosis, which led to chronic pain and stiffness in her neck, upper back, and shoulder.

Fortunately, she is married to an orthopaedist, AAOS member John Tongue, MD. After a steroid injection and 2 months of physical therapy, Nancy was able to embrace her art once again.

Her featured work, “Oswego Sunset,” captures the ephemeral beauty of a sunset over a lake near her home. The painting “represents how wonderful it is to be able to paint and enjoy the simple things in life once again,” she says.

Joy of art, joy of healing
The precise moment that an orthopaedist corrects the deformity of a common wrist fracture is captured in “Orthopaedic Surgeon Reducing a Colles Fracture,” a basswood carving by orthopaedic surgeon Leonard Gerstein, MD.

The stark contrast of the light basswood juxtaposed against the darker-hued redwood base emphasizes the importance of the doctor’s strength and comforting dexterity.

“The emotional aspect of the carving is the joy the surgeon gets when the wrist is reset. That’s why the hands are incorporated into the sculpture,” explains Dr. Gerstein.

“The joy of creating sculptures is similar to the joy of orthopaedic surgery in many ways,” he says. “The satisfaction earned in success-fully solving a mechanical problem, such as a complex fracture, parallels the sense of accomplishment achieved when the shape and grain emerges from the driftwood.”

Being involved in the eMotion exhibit has been a rewarding experience, he says, but he’s noticed a clear contrast between the artwork by orthopaedists and that of patients.

“As orthopaedic surgeons, we focus our artwork on fixing things, putting them together,” he says. “The patients come from a different perspective; they’re recovering from injury and expressing feelings of pain and healing. It’s fascinating to see the contrast.”

Leonard Gerstein, MD, with his sculpture “Orthopaedic Surgeon Reducing a Colles Fracture.”