guest post by Jane Burns (@JMBurns99)
In 2019 Ian Williams and MK Czerwiec curated a fantastic exhibition of Graphic Medicine artwork for the dotMD Festival of Medical of Curiosity held at the National University of Galway in Ireland. (You can see a full article about the exhibition and the conference written by Ian Williams here.)
It was a great experience to go to this conference, mostly because I got to meet Ian, MK and Dana Walrath in person! The exhibition was amazing- drawings from so many Graphic Medicine artists and authors. As I am working on a PhD in Education and the role of Graphic Medicine at Dublin City University, for me it was like having my bibliographic references come to life in one beautiful exhibition!
The exhibition was very impactful for the conference attendees. Many of the attendees (mostly medical professionals) had not heard of Graphic Medicine so the exhibition (as well as MK and Ian’s presentations) really enlightened and educated the audience.
During the conference, Ian and I discussed the possibility of my taking the DotMD exhibition and creating a series of showings in various libraries and cultural institutions around Ireland. This would help inform others about Graphic Medicine, and I would be able to use the process as part of my PhD field work. Some initial environments were identified for exhibitions, but before negotiations could even begin, COVID hit.
This was very disappointing. The way I express my love of Graphic Medicine is that I want to share everything I know about the area with everyone! My professional colleagues in libraries and cultural institutions were disappointed too, as they have heard me present on the topic and were eager to bring the exhibition to their venues. Finding an alternative to the exhibition for my PhD work was also challenging.
As more and more events were moving online, I figured that perhaps it might also be an effective and efficient way to bring the exhibition to others. It would potentially reach a global audience and not just be limited to Ireland. I tried a number of online platforms, but none really fit the feel of an exhibition that I wanted. Then I came across an online exhibition about cartoons in the time of COVID developed by my colleagues, Eoin Kelleher and Harriet Wheelock. Their exhibit used the Microsoft SWAY platform. Here is a link to the blog post I wrote about this online exhibition.
And… (drum roll, please!) here is the link to the dotMD Graphic Medicine Exhibition: https://sway.office.com/TyIOHrkmooJXqZUO?ref=Link
The result you see today represents a lot of work adjusting file sizes, ensuring quality and adapting the real-world exhibition to the Microsoft SWAY online platform. My colleague Niamh O’Brien, (@niamhburo) an amazing librarian from Ireland, really stepped up and helped me with the finer IT issues of SWAY. Our collaborative work is evident in the final result.
I was so happy to share the final result with Ian and MK, two Graphic Medicine legends and constant supporters of my research. Together we decided we want share the dotMD SWAY exhibition with all of you! Please feel free to be in touch with your reactions, thoughts, and perhaps ways you are inspired by this exhibition.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the artists in the exhibition, a list of them can be found here. And a list of the books (and books by artists) featured in the exhibit can be found on our Graphic Medicine Bookshop here.