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Saturday, April 14, 2012

TEDMED Day 2: "Space" Painting Session 2

Music began the second day of TEDMED 2012. 

Beautiful Singer and Songwriter Jill Sobule was a spark of light on stage as she performed with Dr. Francis Collins, both playing guitar and singing a song about disease. Their instruments were quirky cool and I combined them within the painting.  The guitar is the tear shape of Jill's instrument with the double helix from the guitar Francis held.  Then Francis showed us he was an equally accomplished speaker as he led us into a discussion on rare disease.

Gilles Roni and the painting Space

Besides being a musician, Francis works on fighting disease at the molecular level. He helped discover the cause for Cystic Fibrosis about 25 years ago.  He spoke primarily on the topic of Progeria and his hope that NIH will enable clinical trials to occur more rapidly. Progeria is a rare disorder causing premature aging and early death.  Francis invited Sam Berns, a 15 year old boy who lives a full life regardless of his Progeria status, to present with him onstage.  I painted high school band member Sam brave and wonderful holding the Jill/Francis guitar.


Sam the patient received a standing ovation.

Next TEDMED's Jay Walker came onto the stage and defined himself as a curator of "The Library."  In my life I have met many who own books or art in a need for prestige or fame through acquisition. I have also met folks who cherish such pieces and want to share those amazing items with others in joy whilst illustrating their great importance within our history.  Jay Walker is the type of man who cherishes. My late husband Fred would have loved Jay.  They both hold books with great reverence and joy.

Jay told us about the frightful moments on Apollo 11 before "the eagle has landed." He spoke of the second by second communications as the astronaut team reported they would soon be out of fuel.  Calmly the astronauts stated their dire circumstances.  They avoided a crash landing with only 20 seconds left of fuel.  Then Jay showed us the EKG vital readings of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that revealed the racing pulses belied their calm tones. The lunar module landed at 4:18pm Armstrong radios "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Mission control responds, "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we're breathing again."  So within the painting an astronaut cradles Sam in his arms. The astronaut's face is the blue of the moon and the blue of asphyxiation and sleep apnea foreshadowing the speeches to come.                                         

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, presented a speech on "What we have learned about tackling "Great Challenges."  She highlighted the dangers of childhood obesity and importance of community in fostering positive health outcomes.  She stated that unlikely alliances were necessary in order to cause change and the composition of this painting testifies to the truth of that statement.

Howard-Yana Shapiro, Global Director of Plant Science and External Research of Mars Incorporated, only had to walk onstage to draw attention as he has the most magnificent beard.  But then his speech really blew our minds. I began to paint a red planet Mars into the painting.  As he continued to speak about the importance of the healthy quality of food over the tonnage of food sold, Mars became an M&M and part of the guitar above became a shaft of wheat.

mars fights obesity 

Judith Salerno, MD and Leonard D. Schaeffer Executive Officer of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies presented with John Hoffman, Vice President, HBO Documentary Films; Executive Producer, "Weight of the Nation."  Their speech focused on if America was finally ready to tackle obesity and why it cannot weight any longer.  Early in the speech John made a comment that HBO was famous for shows such as "Game of Thrones," not documentaries that try to address health problems.  I disagreed to some extent, as I believe they do both.  So I painted a very obese King Robert Baratheon upon his throne wearing the boxer shorts of an American couch potato with remote in hand.  I was glad to hear that the folks at HBO are addressing this important health issue from their powerful public pulpit.

Finally Scott Jurek, author and Ultra marathon Champion and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street took to the stage. They had a great conversation that revolved around healthy eating and exercise.  Scott assured Cookie that healthy living required more than specialty sneakers and non-chafing running shorts.  It required a healthy lifestyle in food choice and activity.  That means fewer cookies and more veggies.  So the final image added in this painting is a hesitant Cookie Monster peering around the astronaut's legs.

Onstage with "Space" image courtesy of TEDMED

As I finished this piece, I named it "Space:" for the space above us, for the space between us and the space we fill with our ever-growing body size.

This piece was given to Mars, Inc for their dedication to TEDMED and their sponsorship of attendees through the TEDMED patron fund. 

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