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Chronicles of the Chronic

August 26, 2023 - April 3, 2024

Images from left to right:   May Ling Kopecky Self Portrait - Multiple Sclerosis and My Body, 2022  colored pencil, ink, and graphite on Dura-Lar and graph paper; 71" x 30"  ︎︎︎Image description: The portrait of a woman with brown hair is made of drawings of various parts of her body created using various techniques. Next to each drawing is a description of the portaied symptoms.   Benjamin Merrit Care is, 2020                                                              etching, aquatint, drypoint, sugarlift, spitbite; image 18 x 24”, full sheet 22 x 30”            ︎︎︎Image description: One black and white print, consisting of “care is” written in white on the top half, and a white rectangle on the bottom half. The text is sitting on a dark field of texture and gestural marks, the blank rectangle consists of faint texture.   Kym McDaniel Screenshot from Exit Strategy #1, Exit Strategies Series, 2017-2021  video series; 40:23 min  ︎︎︎Image description: Silver spoons arranged on a table

Chronicles of the Chronic

Rochester Art Center, Main Gallery West

Curated by Zoe Cinel

Opening Reception:

September 10, 1 -4 pm, Main Gallery West + Citiview Gallery

Art activities, tours led by the curator, the jurors and the artists, light refreshments

Click here for free registration and to receive updates about the event

About the exhibition:

Chronicles of the Chronic is a group exhibition that celebrates the creativity and resilience of the chronically ill community by featuring regional, national and international artists whose artistic practice reflects holistically upon the experience of living with a chronic health condition. Eight of the thirteen artists were invited by Rochester Art Center’s Curator Zoe Cinel, and the remaining five were selected through a juried process from a pool of eighty-one applicants. The jury was composed of a diverse group of artists, curators and healthcare professionals, including  Alison Berglom Johnson (independent artist and disability advocate), Keisha Williams (MCAD Gallery Director and Curator), Victor Montori M.D. (founder of Patient Revolution and author of Why We Revolt) and Rochester Art Center Curator Zoe Cinel. 

What does it mean to navigate capitalism, the healthcare system and the artworld as an artist living with chronic, often invisible, conditions that impose physical and emotional limitations and require ongoing medical attention? This exhibition considers illness as an individual yet public experience, and it promotes an intersectional approach to care and healing. The narratives of disabled, queer, immigrant, and other historically underrepresented communities are presented through twelve artworks created in a variety of media, including soft sculpture, photography, participatory installations, and storytelling. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that 6 out of 10 adults in the United States suffer from a chronic disease, but illness is still culturally regarded as an isolating topic to be discussed within the closed walls of a scientific establishment or private domain. In Rochester (MN), the birthplace of the top-ranked U.S. hospital, Mayo Clinic, health and care are central to the daily life of many residents and visitors. In this unique context, Chronicles of the Chronic invites all audiences to embark on a transformative journey that normalizes conversations around these topics. The artists’ perspectives on illness, wellness and disability move past binary constructs and they encourage us to find healing as individuals, communities and as a society. As artist Emma MacLean writes on her featured artwork Pain Journal N.2, “I used to believe that sickness and wellness were diametrically opposed, but I understand now that they flow back and forth and within each other.”

In addition to the artworks, visitors have access in the gallery to a multimedia library with books, podcasts and additional resources about care and healing. In-person and virtual programming related to the exhibition connects artists and healthcare professionals in order to build a stronger community and mend relationships.

Featured artists:

Anna Cowley Ford, Anna Hite, Benjamin Merritt, Brothers Sick (Ezra and Noah Benus), Drew Maude-Griffin, Geography of Illness (Emma Jones), Emma MacLean, Jennifer Bastian, Kym McDaniel, Lauryn Youden, May Ling Kopecky, Weng San Sit. 


Alison Bergblom Johnson is an artist whose work crosses media and genre, exploring disability, identity, and joy.

Keisha Williams is the Director and Curator of the MCAD Galleries and Exhibitions.

Victor Montori M.D is a clinician, researcher, and healthcare innovator working at Mayo and he is the founder of Patient Revolution.

Zoe Cinel is the Curator at the Rochester Art Center and multidisciplinary artist living with a chrornic illness.

Press Release: PDF | Word

Press Images: Lauryn Youden, Weng Sat Sit, Anna Cowley Ford, Jennifer Bastian

Attend a program in person at Rochester Art Center:

Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 1:00 PM | Spotlight Tour led by artist Drew Maude-Griffin

Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 1:00 PM | Spotlight Tour led by artist Jennifer Bastian

Join us online for these virtual programs:

January 28, 2024 at 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | Artful Healing: Navigating Chronic Pain through Creative Expression | Virtual workshop with neuroscience Phd student Morgan Fitzgerald from The Chronic Connection Podcast and @lifwithmigraneRegister for free: Click Here

February 24, 2024 at 11:00 AMDelaney Liskey in conversation with May Ling Kopecky about Pediatric-Onset Multiple Sclerosis, patient experience and MS advocacy. Register for free: Click Here

Stay tuned for links, info and more programs!


- Maureen Dudley “Artist talks about ‘Letters Never Sent’” KIMT3, November 20, 2023. Watch online.

- “Art exhibition featuring the chronically ill” KTTC, November 16, 2023. Watch online.

- John Molseed “Letters from Rochester's state hospital offer a glimpse of life for the mentally ill in the late 1800s” Post Bulletin, November 14, 2023. Read online.

- Alicia Eler “Critics’ picks: The 14 best things to do and see in the Twin Cities this week” Star Tribune, September 12, 2023. Read online.

- John Molseed “Mayo Clinic doctor calls for a health care revolution in his new book” Post Bulletin, September 11, 2023. Read online.

- John Molseed "Artists chronicle their chronic illnesses at the Rochester Art Center" Post Bulletin, September 4, 2023. Read online.

- John Molseed "Minnesota artist's work conveys what life is like with a chronic illness" Post Bulletin, July 16, 2023. Read online.

- John Molseed “What it looks like living with Multiple Sclerosis” Post Bulletin, July 9, 2023. Read online.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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