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Baltimore Activists Seek to Raise 'Cesarean Voices' to New Level

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The Baltimore chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) is planning a novel approach to educating the public about the potential negative physical and emotional consequences of cesarean sections for women and their loved ones.

Funded by a grant from Lamaze International, ICAN of Baltimore is accepting submissions for original artwork that translates to the public the experience of having a cesarean, either through the artist’s or someone else’s eyes, to be shown in an ongoing installation. The exhibit, called “Cesarean Voices,” will be held in Baltimore before being made available for other organizations nationwide to use as an educational tool.

Co-leader of the ICAN of Baltimore chapter, Barbara Stratton, hopes the exhibit will reach women before they have a primary cesarean section and give them a different perspective than they would receive in a typical hospital prenatal visit or childbirth education class.

“Everyone who attends our exhibit will immediately be greeted by a poster sized blow up of the Maryland hospital cesarean rates, which will be quite an eye opener for most of them,” said Stratton.

The ICAN of Baltimore chapter will invite the local medical community to view the exhibit to show the impact that cesareans have on families.

“I remember reading a comment by an OB once that all of his cesarean patients are ‘fully functioning’ within 72 hours of their surgery,” said Stratton.  “I personally suffered from a year and a half of daily pain after my own surgery and never went back to my OB to tell her about it.”

Locating a venue for the future exhibit proved difficult for organizers, who were met with confusion, suggestions to contact local hospital galleries and rejection. Stratton was told by the director of one major art museum in Baltimore the topic is “too narrow of a focus, like doing an exhibit for people who have had tonsillectomies.” 

Elena Varipatis Baker of the ICAN of Baltimore chapter feels that art can substitute for words that some women have trouble saying. “For women whose births were difficult or traumatic, words may not be adequate to express to herself and others what she went through,” said Varipatis Baker. “Our hope is that this exhibit will give these women a voice.”  

Artists must submit their artwork before April 7, 2010. Additional information is available on the ICAN web site.



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Reader Comments (9)

"Stratton was told by the director of one major art museum in Baltimore the topic is “too narrow of a focus, like doing an exhibit for people who have had tonsillectomies.'"

Except for the fact that the cesarean rates are high enough that at least 1 in 3 women of childbearing age are now getting them. That's a HUGE percentage of the population.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAugusta

Tonsillectomies used to be routine... which is where we seem to be heading with cesareans.

February 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

I cannot agree with the notion that c/s art is the same as 'tonsillectomy art'. For one--a cesarean is a BIRTH of another human being, as well as a mother. Much more significant than a tonsillectomy IMO. But, we all know cesareans are no big whoop nowadays anyways. *eye roll*

And even if there was such an exhibit of tonsillectomy art, people would see it. It's art, right? I have seen art that consists of 3 basketballs on top of one another, or a spoon twisted to make a design. Enough said.

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermichele

1/3 of all birthing women is too narrow an audience? And I thought the art community liked a little shock and controversy?

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChara

This should be really interesting; I wonder if they will have many contributors?

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

Michele, LOL. I've seen some "interesting" exhibits, too.

Chara, it's testimony to the need for the exhibit. People have NO idea how overused the cesarean section is.

February 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

I remember seeing a documentary about Mayan artwork a while back. A lot of the artwork incorporates images of skulls and human sacrifice. At the time of rendering, these images were depicting actual events that happened during the daily lives of the Mayan people.

Cesarean artwork is another example of art imitating life. And cesareans are just as accepted now as bloody rituals were in Mayan times. I wonder how high the Maternal mortality rate will have to rise before a change in practice patterns is mandated?

February 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Hello, I had an emergency CS because of developing Obstetric Choleastasis. I do agree that some csections are unnecessary, but in many cases they also save lives. My baby would have been born dead if it had not been for the emergency op. so I also want to bring to the attention that it is not just a bloody ritual, but a life giver in many cases. It may not have been the birth I dreamt of but it was what brought my baby safely into my arms, so great for that!

February 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersofia

Sofia, you should submit some artwork for the exhibit.

February 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill
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