April 8 – June 11, 2006
unremarkable…a term meaning lacking distinction
…the word you want to hear when receiving the results of medical scans
“unremarkable” is a journey through cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, and recuperation, showing that the voyage can be one of physical and spiritual recovery instead of a spiral into illness and despair.
“unremarkable” was motivated by a desire to document my declining health. In November of 2002 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Once the reality of that news sank in, I decided I had to find a way to document my journey through what I imagined would be the deterioration of my physical and visual health. By ‘visual health’ I mean the ‘cancer pallor’ that I understood all chemotherapy patients to have; the loss of my hair, which to me was the outward symbol to the world that I had cancer; and the inevitable weight loss that I thought would happen due to the nausea associated with the treatments. The way I decided to do this was to make an image of myself every day for a year starting on the day of my first treatment. What is amazing is that instead of depicting a devastating decline in health, the images reveal a rebirth. In the early Polaroids I look dead inside—my eyes seem empty, my body already ill from the growing cancer. As the months progressed, the cancer pallor appeared and my hair started to fall out, but my spirit got stronger and stronger and it shows. In the end, I found I had created a body of work that reveals how beautiful and strong the soul is even when fighting for its life. At the moment I am done with treatments and cancer free. With unremarkable, I am excited to share my experience and show the world that a cancer diagnosis does not always mean a death sentence, and that the treatments, although horrible, are survivable.
An artist and educator based in Kentucky, Ruth Adams holds an MFA in Photography and Digital Art from the University of Miami. In addition to being represented by Period Gallery in Nebraska, Ruth’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in many private and public collections. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Art Papers, and Shutterbug and has received a number of awards including research grants from the University of Kentucky. Since completing unremarkable, Ruth remains dedicated to helping people overcome cancer by participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s fund-raising triathlon events.