On Oct 31st when I was 19, I went blind. My blindness was like a white-out, not a black-out, like driving on the New Jersey Turnpike in a sudden snow storm. Over the next few months, my normal life was swallowed up by hospital walls, invasive medical testing, and debilitating physical pain and fear. Slowly, the white-hot pain progressed to blurry double-vision and ultimately total recovery. I was left with a vague neurological diagnosis, but a sober new vision of the world. I poured over outdated medical texts and journals in university libraries, studying the inner workings of the human eye. The memories of the ordeal began to fade, but the orb images from those medical texts floated around in my artwork.
A decade later, I collapsed again. After being diagnosed with Papillary Carcinoma of the thyroid, I began aggressively researching the human body. Extensive medical studies of the people exposed to toxic nuclear fallout around Hiroshima and Chernobyl have shown that the kind of cancer I had is caused by exposure to toxic levels of radiation in childhood. Biology, anatomy, and our physiological processes became my obsession. I spent hours each day for several years stumbling through online medical journals searching for answers for my relentless physical pain. Even though my health is now dramatically improved, I remain haunted and enamored with color-enhanced microbiological imagery.
My installations include forms reminiscent of microbiology made with materials associated with toys, or children’s belongings. In 2012, I took a trip to Ukraine to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat, the town where the workers had lived. The “Exclusion Zone” is radioactive, uninhabitable, and guarded by Soviet Military. I took 700+ photographs and 7 videos in the ghost town. Later that same summer, I also visited Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant where the worst nuclear accident occurred in North America. I now incorporate photos and videos from those trips into my installations, which are intended to be a sensory overload of sight, sound, smell and texture. I use my art as therapy for myself, and to spark others’ interest in nuclear energy.