By Louise Kinross
The back has particular meaning for people with spina bifida, because it’s the spot where surgery is often needed to push part of the spinal cord, which doesn’t grow properly in utero, back inside and close the opening. Due to nerve damage, many people with spina bifida use wheelchairs.
In addition to a traditional portrait, each subject in Steve’s exhibit has a second image of their exposed back, which in some cases includes surgical scars. “It was an opportunity for them to show off their back and for me to light and photograph it as beautiful,” Steve says. “It’s stark and out there. These people were brave. Front to Back is a path to a sense of dignity and control over what happens to us. Audiences will see people first.”
The exhibit includes moving comments from each subject on why they participated.
“This is the scariest thing I could ever do. I had to do it for myself. It was time to expose something that all my life I had found ugly, embarrassing, humiliating. That’s the gift we’ve been given with this project—the opportunity to completely expose something that all our lives we have been hiding.”
Make sure to visit both Gallery 44 and Abbozzo Gallery in 401 Richmond St. W. Steve will be giving a talk on the exhibit on April 25 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The building is full of Strange Beauty exhibits and is well worth the visit. Click on these images to see them larger. And you may recognize one of the models at the exhibit!