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The TBI Portraits Gallery Show Opening a Huge Success!

WHACK'ed...and then everything was different, the world premiere of a touring exhibition of the TBI Portraits opened March 15, 2012 at MSB Gallery in New York City to a terrific audience and rave reviews. The solo exhibition by artist Eliette Markhbein honors survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) who changed perceptions of TBI and disability in general and became role models for millions of others. The exhibition is one of hundreds of events across the country celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month in March. Featured on CNN's The Human Factor with Sanjay Gupta, MD on March 27, 2012, Eliette eloquently described the creation process and her TBI.

Together with the Brain Injury Association of America and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, she plans to auction the TBI Portraits to underwrite the development of a pilot Artist-in-Residence program to serve people with TBI in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. The opening reception was sponsored by Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine and the exhibition runs from March 15 to April 15. 
         

  TBI Portrait Exhibit Postcard
          

 About the TBI Portraits by Eliette Markhbein

The goal of the TBI Portraits is to shape public policy with regards to the rehabilitation of people having sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to advocate for the inclusion of "Artist in Residence" programs in the rehabilitation process.

Artist Eliette Markhbein created the TBI Portraits and has partnered with the Brain Injury Association of America and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare to raise funds by auctioning a series of 12 large scale portraits she painted to honor TBI survivors who became role models for their peers. The proceeds of the sale will support a traveling exhibition and a pilot nationwide "Artist in Residence" program to serve people with traumatic brain injury in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. To donate online via credit card, click here or download a donation form here.

 
 
 
 George Clooney Portrait by Elette Markhbein  Gabby Giffords Portrait by Eliette Markhbein

 Artist Statement by Eliette Markhbein

My approach to art is multidisciplinary - large-scale drawing, painting, photography, clay, multi-media collages, and poetry – using one or more media appropriately for the projects I produce.  I have developed many interconnected bodies of work, but I am especially dedicated to my works related to disability and inclusion. The portraits honor traumatic brain injury survivors who changed perceptions of TBI and disability in general and became role models for millions of others. The series of large scale portraits personify the various causes of TBI as well as the diversity of people it affects.  The portraits include those of rock and movie stars, Keith Richards and George Clooney; Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; ABC-TV news correspondent Bob Woodruff; ARMY SPEC (retired) Claudia Carreon, a veteran of the Iraqi war; athletes Troy Aikman (NFL Hall of Famer) and Pat Lafontaine (NHL Hall of Famer); a very spirited 5 year old, Alexis Verzal, who was shaken and thrown into a wall at age 2; Trisha Meili, the "Central Park Jogger"; and Timothy Pruce, Brain Injury Association of New York State Vice-President.

The concept and formalism of my work is informed by my personal experience with traumatic brain injury and evokes the need to reassemble fragments of a pre-existing identity in order to create a new self. Thus the drawing/ cutting/ collage technique used throughout the series, a reflection and a silent testimony to the three phases of traumatic brain injury: Fractured/ Reassembled/ Whole.

First drawn in charcoal on paper based on photographs cropped to desired intimacy, the drawings are then imperfectly cut with scissors into squares and reassembled as a portrait on a painted canvas. I use paper to draw the portraits because like a human being, paper is organic, resilient and fragile. It bends, absorbs and rips; and it bears witness to its endurance by exhibiting its scars in the process.


 
 
                  

   Portrait in Progress
 
 
The uneven grid effect resulting from the drawing/ cutting/ collage technique illustrates how TBI disrupts sensory and perceptual processes, such as the seamless way in which one's mind functions pre-injury - a phenomenon one is unconscious of until it is lost - and substitutes it with jagged awareness and fractured perceptions. The grid also acts as a metaphor for the support and structure survivors of TBI require to live a productive and rewarding life.

Each portrait therefore is organized in a grid formation that reflects both an inward and an outward representation of traumatic brain injury. Like the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, I believe the face is not only the outward sign of a personage, but the naked essence of humanity. As such, it reveals an extraordinary vulnerability and an astonishing resilience. By representing faces of TBI survivors on a large scale, I hope to elicit emotional intimacy and universality.

I want my work to bring awareness of Traumatic Brain Injury and its effects on people so the public at large better understand its symptoms and help and support injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their families, to transition and adapt to a new life. Based on my experience as an Artist in Residence at The Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Center in New York, and the success of using art as a modality for the rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients, I have partnered with the Brain Injury Association of America and the Society for Arts in Healthcare to educate the public about TBI through a touring exhibit of the portraits and to raise funds by auctioning the portraits to support a nationwide Artists in Residence program to serve people with traumatic brain injury in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

 
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