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Monday, Jan. 10, 2011

Cancer, Photography and ‘Changed Perspectives’

Shimon and Lindemann’s powerful exhibit at John Michael Kohler Arts Center

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Acclaimed Manitowoc photographers John Shimon and Julie Lindemann recently taught cancer survivors to use digital photography as a means to reflect on the changes brought about by their medical journeys. As suggested by the title of their exhibition at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, “Changed Perspectives,” this project allowed survivors to further contemplate their altered points of view.

Among the display’s striking aspects are the shared beliefs featured in the photographs. The exhibit’s underlying themes include church (identified with a sense of spirituality), nature (and its connection with all life) and family (the support system that gives comfort through their journeys).

The use of large-format cameras, much like those used at the turn of the century, requires subjects to remain still. This process seems to gather more of a person, as if you are staring into the soul of the individual.

The audio recordings provide a voice to guide us through the personal journey of each participant. Their voices express the anguish, hope and strength that accompanied these traumatic and life-altering experiences.

One of the most poignant stories is that of Lucy, whose brother died of cancer more than 50 years ago.  Lucy found the memory of her brother comforting when she was diagnosed with cancer. In a short film included in the exhibition, Lucy recounts both his journey with cancer and their close relationship.

As you view the installation, you get a real sense of how therapeutic the experience was for these survivors.

A public reception takes place 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20. “Changed Perspectives” runs through Feb. 13.
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