Intro: Kay Hartmann, graphic designer, teacher and social activist

2012-11-10T16:23:00Z Intro: Kay Hartmann, graphic designer, teacher and social activistBy Julie Dean Kessler
November 10, 2012 4:23 pm  • 

Seven years ago at age 53, graphic artist Kay Hartmann battled breast cancer and won—but her research about the disease has left her with troubling questions. Now the associate professor in art and design at Chicago’s Columbia College has poured her frustration into a collection of graphic designs that are a call to action.

The collection, titled What’s Wrong with this Picture? was recently on exhibit at the Blink Contemporary Art Gallery in Michigan City, Indiana.

Last summer Blink Gallery owners and artists Suzanne Cohan-Lange and Richard Lange invited Hartmann to create an exhibit expressing her concerns about the focus and future of breast cancer fundraising. Hartmann created large digital prints of a portion of a woman’s body with superimposed printed information, quotes and questions, each intended to provoke thinking about fighting breast cancer in a different way.

One of the quotes: “What has more than 60 years of study, and more than $50 billion spent on breast cancer research in the U.S. alone accomplished? The survival rate is now about 75 percent.” —from “Beating the Odds,” U.S. News and World Report, June 15, 2005

Hartmann wants to know what is causing the number of women in the U.S. diagnosed and treated with breast cancer to go from one in thirty to forty women in the 1940s, to one in eight women today. “A lot of money has been spent on breast cancer, yet little is known about what causes it,” she says.

Hartmann says much more attention, time and money have been spent on treatment options than on looking at possible environmental causes, like toxins in air, water and food. “Having gone through this disease, my conclusion is that we need to illuminate what the priorities are in funding and research, and how we can change those priorities.

“That’s what I hope people take away from this exhibit.”

Hartmann, who lives in New Buffalo, says she hopes her artwork will become a traveling exhibit.


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