Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making Art Out of Illness: Dana Heffern Has the ANTIDOTE for Type 1 Diabetes

A friend of mine needs your help -- and your old medical supplies -- to help complete her "Antidote."

Dana Heffern worked for over a decade as a decorative painter; interior designer; and scenic artist on top-selling and award-winning Broadway productions such as Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins, The Lion King, The Color Purple, and Mamma Mia. She has since moved from working on the Great White Way to working on an MFA at Goddard College in Vermont. She also volunteers as a diabetes mentor in Spectrum’s Youth & Family Services program supporting young people with type 1 diabetes.

For her latest project, Heffern's medium is her disease and all the accoutrements of life as a type 1 diabetic.

Herself a type 1 diabetic, Heffern has been awarded a scholarship from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), which will help fund "Antidote," a performance art piece that discusses the difficulties of living with type 1 diabetes.

In addition to visual pieces created for the show (see sampling of works in progress below), the central performance piece of "Antidote" will be a dinner party of sorts designed to project the difficulties, dangers, and frustrations of the type 1 diabetic's diet to non-diabetic guests. The work will go live at Goddard College on July 26, 2011.

You can read an interview the artist gave to diabetes lifestyle blog Living In Progress about herself and her work, and you can even help with the creation of "Antidote" yourself! While the project is partially funded by the AHEAD scholarship, Heffern has to cover the majority of expenses herself, so she is asking for donations of any used and unused diabetes management supplies -- such as unused test-strips and syringes, the leftover plastic parts from Minimed infusion sets, empty insulin bottles, reservoirs, tubing, etc. -- that she can incorporate into the show.

Mail supplies
and support to:
Dana Heffern
P.O. Box 9244
South Burlington, VT 05407

Hey, Comics Cure--what does this have to do with comics and geek culture?
Okay, you got me! Dana Heffern is not a comic creator. She's not an illustrator by trade, nor does she make craftwork superheroes or modelling-clay action figure accessories. But she is an artist -- and comics are art. So there's your relevance to this site. Disease does not discriminate, so Comics Cure won't either. Besides, the idea of turning illness into artwork, as Heffern does in "Antidote" may very well inspire you to do the same. Comics certainly offer a fine medium to draw (or write) out the demons of disease -- your own or those of someone close to you.

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