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LIVER DIE: A Print Action for Health

For his clinical art action during the 2005 Southern Graphics Council Conference Power in Print, Eric Avery will create a Hepatitis C Clinic in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC as part of the Pressing Images/Pressing Issues exhibit, curated by Dennis O’Neil and Georgia Deal. LIVER DIE is a print action for health, educating viewers about Hepatitis C. The opening of LIVER DIE is March 31 from 6-8 p.m.

The clinical art space for LIVER DIE will be a ten by ten foot structure with three paper walls made from six by nine foot linoleum block prints of the BIG SICK LIVER. The print is based on an anatomical image showing the stages of liver damage caused by the Hepatitis C virus. The front of the clinic is open allowing viewers to observe the clinic in action.

At scheduled times during the conference, various clinical activities will occur in the art space. A blood drive is scheduled so that conference participants can donate blood and in the process find out if they have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. A physician and a nurse will offer clinical care to patients with Hepatitis who have agreed to participate. A Hepatitis Support Group meeting will be held in the clinic.

Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne disease in the U.S., affecting about 4 million Americans. It is more common than HIV. Because Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, many people do not know they have the disease and may be infecting others. Effective treatment is available.

A clinic in an art museum is disorienting because it disrupts the protective shield constructed by museums against the existence of the transitory and debilitating facts of human physical life. When medicine, usually confined to hermetic spaces in clinics and hospitals, is presented in the unexpected context of beauty and human creativity, we are reminded of the ancient connections between healing and art.

Eric Avery is a printmaker and an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Member of the Institute for Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. His artwork has explored the boundary between visual art and medicine. His website is: www.DocArt.com.

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