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Art & Healing: The Shared Hope Project, Exhibit by Photographer Stacey Steinberg, Harn Museum

Stacey at harnThis exhibit is powerfully moving, and it's at the Harn Museum auditorium in Gainesville through August 5, 2016.

The exhibition is entitled The Shared Hope Project, and it touched me in a way that I hadn't expected.

Through the Shared Hope Project, professional photographer (and professor and lawyer) Stacey Steinberg offered free photography sessions to families coping with a member’s serious illness, people being treated at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.

Here's what Stacey said about the project on its webpage:

I photograph at the intersection of life and beauty, and there is no place where these two worlds collide more than in the arms of a parent who knows that every day with their child is a gift. These families truly see the beauty and art in everyday life.

Photos of Baby Grayson moved me to tears yet made me smile.  Grayson was diagnosed with leukemia before his first birthday.  Now, he’s cancer-free.

As I stared at Grayson, I simultaneously felt (1) sad that this little boy had experienced such an ordeal and (2) warmed by a sense of hope. 

I think I understand why Stacey named it “The Shared Hope Project.”

Another example was a photo of Liam, which moved me in a different way.  Liam was an infant, lying in a plastic hospital-bin: Liama doctor was putting a no-doubt-cold stethoscope on Liam’s chest.

Yet Liam actually smiled at the camera—despite the electrode and tube and other thing attached to his tiny body. (Click on photo of Liam to see larger version.)

Liam was too young to discuss the ordeal of illness and treatment, yet he looked happy.  What can I say but "Wow"?

At that moment, my perspective shifted.  Liam and Grayson are only two of Stacey's examples of the human spirit's ability to conquer.

As I left the museum, I thought about the people I’d just met through those photographs--the discomfort and fear and pain they’d endured.  I thought about the happy moments they managed to find, nonetheless.

I also thought about how easy it is to take basic yet crucial things for granted, like health and existence, itself.  Hours later, I’m still reminding myself to stop taking them for granted.

Art is supposed to challenge the perspective, and that’s the effect that Stacey’s work has had on me.  Here are some related links:

Stacey Steinberg Photography

The Harn Museum: on the Shared Hope Project

Huffington Post article on The Shared Hope Project

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