Award Winning Artist, Dr. Wilma Bulkin Siegel Combines Art and Medicine with Exhibits at Whitespace Collection and Tradition of the Palm Beaches

Combining medicine with painting, Dr. Wilma Bulkin Siegel is an award-winning artist recognized nationally for her portrait series of people living with AIDS, Survivors of AIDS, Breast Cancer Survivors, The Homeless, The Elderly and most recently Returning War Veterans.  She has exhibited throughout the United Sates, been featured on CNN and been elected into Who’s Who in American Art. Her work from the series “Returning Iraqi War Veterans”, currently showing at Whitespace Collection ‘Pushing Boundaries’, includes video and actual interviews with veterans. Her portraits and biographies of “Holocaust Survivors and Liberators” is being shown at Morse Life at the Tradition of the Palm Beaches. In 2009, she was awarded the highest honor for contributions to the field of arts in Healthcare – The Janice Palmer Award of Society of Arts in Healthcare.  The Rickie Report reminds you to visit Whitespace Collection before March 22nd, when it closes for the season. Dr. Siegel’s  works are at Morse Life through April 15th.  Please note: we share a few stories at the end of the article. The * in the photograph indicates the person’s story is included here.  We hope you will take the time to read them.  We found them compelling.

 

 

 

2 EXHIBITIONS

Whitespace  Collection

 Now Through March 22nd

Dr. Wilma Bulkin Siegel

“Portraits and Conversations with Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan”

Open every Saturday & Sunday 1-4

Small group tours on Sat. and Sun with a docent

 

2805 N. Australian Avenue     W.Palm Beach, FL 33407
561.842.4131

 

 

"Roman Baca", Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

*   “Roman Baca”, Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

Dr. Siegel says, “I knew that I liked people and wanted to express the knowledge I had acquired about people as a physician. I came upon portraiture as a means of expressing the psychology of the person I was painting. As a physician and an artist I use my medical education and my art to find ways of healing people. It is my purpose in life to heal. In whatever way I can play a role, I wish to have people think about our place as individuals living amongst each other. Through my work as a doctor and a portrait artist I must address the ‘truth’ of the individual. I observe and listen to the person before me. As an artist, I paint individuals who have something to say about pertinent social issues, a kind of ‘social realism’”.

"Wilfred Bedeau" Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

  *       “Wilfred Bedeau” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD  

 

“A few years ago, I completed a series on Holocaust survivors and their World War II liberators. Many of these people were in the final stages of their lives, so it was more important than ever to capture their faces and the thoughts behind their eyes. Growing up in the late 1930s and 40s during World War II was a part of my history where the fear of the unknown was always present. Blackouts and the threat of an enemy attack were always in our thoughts. I remember the many windows where there were flags with varying stars for those service men in action or the Gold Star for those who had given their lives for our nation. There was a sense of the country coming together to fight a single enemy”.

 

 

"Dr. Heather Cereste", Portrait by Wilma BUlkin Seigel, MD

*    “Dr. Heather Cereste”, Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

 

"Alison McKenzie" Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel,MD

*“Alison McKenzie” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel,MD

 

 

 

 

“Once again, in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I saw the flags in the windows. First was Operation Iraqi Freedom, which led to Operation Enduring Freedom. Certainly ‘enduring freedom’ is a worthy goal, but it comes at a very dear price. Once again, I turned to those who were there to help answer the question about the purpose of this war. These veterans say: “I did it because it was my duty” and “I’m serving my country and my people”. 

 

"Juan Fernandez" Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

“Juan Fernandez” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

 

“It is a conversation that I want to share with you so that we all,together, can better understand what the defenders of our country have gone through. We all need to see, hear and be part of their healing. This project was by far one of the most difficult, having them share their message”. 

whitespaceDSC_0873 (2)

“Emery Everhart” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Siegel, MD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Jake Milkovic" Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

*“Jake Milkovich” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Currently my focus in art has been to bring Art-in-Medicine programs into the mainstream. I have been responsible for starting a medical school course to bring artists and medical students together to help the student have better visual acuity. I have a passion to start “Artists-in-residency” programs in the de-humanized medical settings to help in healing. I have made a motto for myself in art, which I call the three C’s-Communication,Compassion, and Creativity.”

 

 

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Art Exhibit at Morse Life Health System:

“Survivors and Liberators: Portraits”

by
Wilma Bulkin Siegel,MD

 

The Tradition of the Palm Beaches

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

10:30 am – 1:00 pm or by invitation until April 15 or by calling: 561.242.4661

4920 Loring Drive     West Palm Beach

 Marilyn & Stanley M. Katz Seniors Campus of MorseLife Health System

Exhibit runs through April 15th

 

The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Holocaust in Europe. It is also a time to recognize the men, women and children among those who perished, and survivors of the Holocaust, their families and their liberators. Dr. Wilma Siegel’s very touching exhibition “Survivors and Liberators”, to be on display at Morse Life’s The Tradition of the Palm Beaches from until April 15th, does just that, focusing on survivors, liberators and children of the Holocaust. The exhibit, which Siegel hopes will “instill strength of spirit through portraits and narratives,” exhibits grand-scale watercolors featuring bold but personal portraits of subjects the artist interviewed and painted in their own homes beginning in 2003.

 

"Abe Morgenstern" by Wilma Bulkin Siegel,MD

“Abe Morgenstern” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Siegel,MD

 

 

Dr. Siegel incorporates photographs and other mementos belonging to the subjects in their portraits, representing a casual intimacy while also serving as a record of life. A program book provides a short biography of each subject, retracing their route from Europe’s concentration camps to life in the U.S. With each narrative, the viewer has a chance to develop a deeper connection with the lives represented in each portrait.

 

"Regina Niven" by Wilma Bulkin Siegel MD

“Regina Niven” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Siegel MD

 

 

Keith A. Myers, President/CEO of MorseLife Health System, noted the organization is honored to sponsor and bring these extraordinary portraits of survivors and liberators of the Holocaust by Wilma Bulkin Siegel, M.D. “Survivors and Liberators presents us all with not merely portraits, but sobering and haunting stories behind beautiful faces,” he said. “The stories are hard to forget. And we should never forget. As an organization serving the health care, housing and supportive needs of seniors of our community, we are touched daily by the strength and perseverance that we see in them today,” Myers noted. “Some of the seniors we have served and serve today are survivors themselves. We dedicate this exhibit to them, the seniors we care for.”

 

"Morris Freibaum" by Wilma

“Morris Freibaum” Portrait by Wilma Bulkin Seigel, MD

 

For more information about Wilma Bulkin Seigel’s extraordinary and important views, please visit: http://wilmabulkinsiegel.com

Dr. Seigel wishes to thank the following organizations that helped her find the courageous people she portrays and shares with us: “SE FL. Chapter of the Red Cross, The Jewish Federation (Broward County), Ft. Lauderdale Vet Center of Dept. of Veteran Affairs, NYU Langone Medical Center, NOVA Southeastern University, Weill/Cornell Medical Center, Phillip Collins, David Spangler, Chris Coyne and Bill Kanatas of Pathways America, Neli and Brian Rowland of A Safe Haven shelters in Chicago, Richard Finkelstein, and Irvin Lippman”.

 

For more information about Whitespace Collection please contact:

Elayne Mordes, ASID AAA

Whitespace Art Adventures

2805 N. Australian Avenue  West Palm Beach, Florida 33407
T:561.842.4131   F:561.842.4132    E: 2805@mordes.net
www.whitespacecollection.com

 

 

For more information about the exhibit, “Survivors and Liberators” on the MorseLife Health System campus, call (561) 209-6103.

 

 

Lives Beyond the Portraits

 

ROMAN BACA was at Walter Reed Medical Center at a conference about the healing arts for Returning Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a Marine/ballet choreographer and director of Exit 12 Dance Company of NYC. The piece he choreographed was his experience of the ethnicity of Americans and Iraqi, the war and was descriptive of war, but in the end they joined together in peace. His experience as a dancer was imbedded, but he had a desire to conquer his fears and entered the Marines. The Marines taught him to redirect his fears and use the adrenalin rush to survive, “using the fear to keep going”. He was deployed in 2005-2006 in Iraq. He subsequently had great PTSD and relies on his wife who is the only one who can help him understand it. Unable to focus on what to do with his life, he  formed the troupe whose purpose is to use the art of dance as a communicator. He returned with the troupe to Iraq, meeting with diverse ethnic groups (Kurds and Arabs) and then helped them all to interact through dance (even between men and women). The two groups performed bringing the different families together in the audience and in the end the audience and performers as a group. They picked flowers as a ‘thank you offering’ to the troupe for having given them a better understanding of each other. His statement is that art is the better way to conquer than violence through weapons of destruction. He hopes that his company will have a national tour. He states: “Art gives veterans this vehicle to communicate their experiences in an abstract way, where they’re not being sensationalist or overly shocking”.

 

 

 

WILFRED BEDEAU  served in combat in Iraq with Desert Storm for eight months in 1990-91 after enlisting for six years in the Army. He continued in the reserves and does casualty assistance. He did not immediately recognize his own need for counseling following Desert Storm. Suffering from PTSD, he went to the Department of Veterans Affairs of Broward County and now goes weekly for counseling, which helps in his work of talking with the families of suicide casualties. Wilfred is a very mature and wise 46 year old who now has two sons, a 17 year-old and a 24 year-old to whom he has taught “suicide is not an option”. 

 

 

DR. HEATHER CERESTE was at a book signing and mentioned that she was taking the MS program of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, with which I’m involved. I invited her to be part of the series. It took a year until I was able to paint her since she was ill from a condition of Hypothyroidism, which brought on her PTSD profoundly. She could’t focus in her work as a physician. She questions why she developed this after her deployment in Iraq on the front lines in the hospital setting, in which she was thrust into immediate trauma surgery and care of the injured. The hospital had severe air pollution because of ‘burning pits’ where they burned all the detritus including machines and refrigerators, etc. After 9/11 she wanted to make a difference and joined the Air Force. Her specialty as an internist, was geriatrics and palliative care, and ethics became her main expertise. She joined in 2004, deployed in 2006 and it took 4 years for the PTSD to set in profoundly while employed at Cornell campus Medical School. She still has her credentials but can’t work and is considering changing her focus to writing. She describes an episode when she was in group therapy for PTSD and expressed all her feelings which she did not think was so courageous, but all the men that she was with came up to her to thank her for expressing so well all that they were going through but were unable to address. She is applying to Wounded Warriors to help direct her in perhaps a counseling job.

 

 

 

COLONEL JUAN FERNANDEZ suffers from Keratoconus of his eyes which labels him blind. He had corneal transplant surgery without benefit. He found a physician who gave him prosthetic lenses, correcting his vision immediately by reshaping the cornea. He works for the Red Cross as a volunteer to help homeless vets. He is of Cuban descent, raised by grandmother in California. He served 2003-4 to combat tour in Afghanistan. He noted his disability in 2008 when he could not see gun firing and retired in 2008. He now helps in ROTC for recruiting.. He says he suffers from PTSD often thinking of the ‘body bags’. He states “Freedom isn’t free because someone has died for it”. The Red Cross is planning Transition Reintegration Program and he advises the warriors that “It is o.k. to need help!”

 

 

TREESE KIMMONS is 28 and entered the army after high school. She was deployed twice 2005-2006 and 2007-2008 to Iraq. She never wanted to be a ‘weekend warrior’ but wanted to ‘do it all’. Her job was in the supply and armor unit. She was shot at the first day and realized the reality of where she was. She experienced nine deaths. Upon discharge, she couldn’t cope with adult life and not being told what to do. She is going to school for Forensics and Criminal Analysis but has experienced severe PTSD for which she is in therapy. I met her at A Safe Haven Foundation, a homeless shelter in Chicago. In the background I have put a photo of her cherished dog tag.

 

 

ALISON MCKENZIE  has been a nurse for 27 years and in the military for past 20 years. She is now a Major in the Army and works as a nurse manager of surgical intensive care unit at New York University Medical Center. She was deployed as head nurse to Abu Ghraib after the scandal that occurred there. The flag of Abu Ghraib is in the background of her portrait. Because of the scandal, she had to be specially trained to protect her patients including the terrorist enemies. She contended with the negative reactions of United States Military personnel and their anger about her caring for the enemy. She describes the fears she had when she accompanied a critically ill soldier by helicopter at dusk to the green zone. The helicopter was always a target for the enemy, and there could not be any light to watch the IV or to take blood pressure. The helicopter pilot understood her anxiety and found a special light that could not be seen from the ground. It saved her patient’s life and most likely her own. This 24-7  “paranoid keeping track” has taken its toll on Alison who gets counseling for PTSD. 

 

JAKE MILKOVICH  is 23 years old and he grew up “playing army”. His father gave him the movie “Top Gun” when he was 7 years old and he dreamed that he too would fly jets and be a fighter pilot. At 17 he wanted to be the “best of the best” so he joined the Marines. Once at Paris Island, it was a great shock but he always wanted to achieve. He became a squad leader and then was chosen to infantry school, learning basic security and was picked to serve at Camp David to be part of security for President Obama. His leadership led him to be deployed as platoon leader in Afghanistan in April 2011. He observed many casualties with many amputees. He is spiritual and learned of death early while there, when a mentor of his was killed in the shower by a grenade. His mentor said, “When it is your time – it is your time to go”. He was deployed for 7 months. He learned the respect for life here where we can breathe free. He has PTSD and believes it helps to keep in touch with his buddies. He is studying to get his college degree at NOVA Southeastern University with his significant other Kelsey, who is a martial arts instructor for the Marines. They are creating NOVA Students Veterans Association because Florida will have a large population of returning veterans and they are planning a major function throughout the campus for Veteran’s Day. 

 

 

 

 

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