In 2004, journalist Eliette Markhbein was struck by a car while riding her bike. The collision split her helmet in half “like a ripe watermelon,” and left Markhbein with injuries to her spine and brain. Her life, she says, was changed forever.
As she struggled to recover, Markhbein started painting, to take her mind off of the physical and emotional pain she was experiencing. “When I was painting I did not have to face my injury. It was addictive. It was better than morphine,” she says.
During her rehabilitation, Markhbein returned to school to study art and painting, and began working on a self portrait. Looking back at the portrait she says, “Totally unconsciously I cropped half of my face. I didn’t know who I was at that time. I didn’t know if I would reclaim my place in society.”
Iraq war veteran Claudia Carreon. Courtesy Eliette Markhbein.
That portrait is the model for a series of other larger-than-life portraits of TBI survivors, including Gabrielle Giffords, journalist Bob Woodruff, Trisha Meili, aka the “Central Park Jogger,” and Iraqi war veteran Claudia Carreon. See a sample of Markhbein's work in the slideshow above.
*Expand the slideshow to full screen to see uncropped images.
Those works and others are now on display as part of The TBI Project
, which aims to raise awareness about traumatic brain injury, and to help educate the public about the symptoms and treatments of TBI. (The project is sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of America
and the Society for Arts in Healthcare
.) Markhbein says the portraits will eventually be auctioned to raise funds to support a nationwide ‘Artists in Residence’ program to serve people with traumatic brain injury in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.
WHACK’ed…and then everything was different
, runs March 15-April 24, 2012, at the MSB Gallery at NYU Langone Medical Center