Captured scenes from a long journey back to health
When Wayland resident Willard Traub checked into the hospital almost six years ago, he packed minimally, as most patients do. But he did bring along something vital to his sense of self-identity: his camera.
“Having my camera with me helped me feel grounded,’’ he said. “I’ve been a professional photographer much of my life, and it provided a familiar situation for me, as opposed to the situation of being a hospital patient, with which I was not familiar.’’
Unfortunately, the hospital setting was one with which Traub, now in his late 60s, would become increasingly well-acquainted over the months that followed. Diagnosed in early 2005 with a blood cancer called myelodysplasia syndrome, he saw his health rapidly deteriorate as the search for a blood-marrow donor got underway.
By November of 2005, a match had been found. “I’ve been thinking about this project since I lay in bed awaiting my transplant,’’ Traub said recently.
The project to which he refers is “Recovery,’’ a collection of his photos documenting his experience as a blood-marrow transplant patient. The photos are on exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art in downtown Framingham.
The 12 months that followed his transplant included more hospital time, as well as isolation, recommended because the immune system of a blood-marrow transplant patient becomes so compromised that everyday germs can be deadly.
“In that year, I did some photography in the hospital and some at home. Once I recovered to the point where I could drive, I’d go to various outdoor places to shoot,’’ Traub said. He took about 400 exposures that to his mind were somehow related to his physical condition, whether they were nature images or interior hospital shots.
Traub had long worked as an architectural photographer, but the pictures he took during this period required some adjustment of his usual practices. “I didn’t have the strength I’d had prior to my illness, so I couldn’t carry around the same large cameras I was accustomed to using. Instead, I switched to a 35-millimeter point-and-shoot camera. I chose to shoot in black and white because of its clarity, and because I find it in some ways to be more engaging.’’
Among Traub’s favorite works in the Danforth exhibition is one he took of his dog while the two were out on a walk. “I like the way the image is composed: its hopefulness and its vitality,’’ he said. Another favorite photo that he believes conveys his sense of hopefulness is an image taken from inside his house looking out, with a peculiar play of light on a wooden ledge against a backdrop of woods. “The composition of the photo makes you wonder where the light is coming from,’’ he said.
Traub also wrote journal entries and poems to go with some of the photos; they have been compiled into a catalog that also includes work by two museum curators and his transplant physician. A portion of the proceeds from catalog sales will be given to the Be the Match Foundation, which hosts a national bone-marrow registry for people searching for matching donors.
Traub hopes that visitors to the show will take away from it not only a sense of hope about recovering from serious illness, but also a greater appreciation for the miracle of transplant surgery.
“There are so many of us walking the planet who once wouldn’t have been allowed to live,’’ Traub said. “My blood-marrow donor is a young man living in Georgia. I’ve subsequently spoken to him on the phone and we’ve kept up a lively e-mail conversation. We have plans to meet in person this winter.
“I’m hoping that understanding what I went through might help other people with serious or debilitating illnesses recognize that there are so many ways you can turn your despair around.’’
“Recovery’’ is on exhibit at the Danforth, 123 Union Ave., through Nov. 6, with a poetry reading by the artist on Sunday at 1 p.m. For hours and more information, call 508-620-0050 or go to www.danforthmuseum.org.
ART RECEPTION TONIGHT: The Concord Art Association is presenting its 129th annual Frances N. Roddy Open Competition and accompanying exhibition through Oct. 16. An opening reception will be held tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.
The competition draws artists from all over New England who work in a variety of media. Ellen Miller, of Ellen Miller Gallery in Boston, is this year’s juror, and will award prizes during tonight’s gathering at 37 Lexington Road in Concord.
For more information, call 978-369-2578 or go to www.concordart.org.
HARRY POTTER STAMPS: An award-winning traveling exhibition, “The Magical World of Harry Potter,’’ opens Saturday at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, on the Regis College campus at 235 Wellesley St. in Weston.
The display features postage stamps from across the world, including issues by France, Great Britain, the Republic of Taiwan, and the Isle of Man, that use images from the Harry Potter books and movies.
The museum will provide games and puzzles related to the stamps and stamp books for Potter fans to complete and win prizes.
An opening reception will be held Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person.
Museum hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The gallery at the museum will be open until 8 p.m. on Sept. 29 and 30 for additional viewing.
For more information about the museum and the exhibition, call 781-768-8367 or go to www.spellman.org.
NOTABLE OPENING: Lexington Symphony’s season opens with a concert Saturday at 8 p.m. in Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave.
The program features Claude Debussy’s “Nocturnes’’ and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,’’ performed with a women’s ensemble, the New World Chorale.
“Nocturnes’’ was inspired by a series of impressionist paintings by James McNeill Whistler and has been described as creating a “gorgeous tapestry of sound.’’ Holst described his most popular work, the orchestral suite “The Planets,’’ as a “series of mood pictures.’’
Tickets are $20 to $50. For more information, call 781-523-9009 or go to www.lexingtonsymphony.org.
SOUL CUSTODY CD: The band Soul Custody features an immigration lawyer, a high school Spanish teacher, a middle school music teacher, a quality-control engineer, and a woodwind instructor, and their music combines driving rhythms, bluesy harmonies, lyrical melodies, and soulful improvisations.
The band is celebrating the release of its first CD of original music, “Meridian Point,’’ with a party at the Harvest Cafe, 40 Washington St. in Hudson, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
The event will feature a live performance, a family-style buffet dinner, door prizes, and a special raffle. For more information, call 978-567-0948 or visit www.harvestcafeonline.com.
MAD MUSICAL: Theatre III of West Acton will open “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical’’ at 8 p.m. tomorrow, with shows Saturday and the next two weekends, at 250 Central St. in Acton.
For tickets and more information, go to www.theatre3.org or call 978-263-9070.
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