Dig Baton Rouge

Invisible Illnesses to be Highlighted at Upcoming Photography Exhibit, The Picture of Health

A photography exhibit highlighting invisible illnesses will be unveiled on Wednesday, May 29 at The Healthcare Gallery, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, Baton Rouge. The exhibit titled, The Picture of Health, is by Leslie D. Rose, a Baton Rouge based photographer and writer who suffers from fibromyalgia. The exhibit features more than one dozen Baton Rougeans representing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.

Photo Credit: Leslie D. Rose

Through the art of photography, The Picture of Health, shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. This exhibit will use a mixture of headshots, full body shots, and shots of an individual’s hands holding up a sign detailing their illness, and focus on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. Its mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues.

Inspired by her diagnosis journey with an invisible illness, Rose wanted to create something that would help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like. In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with an anxiety disorder – a diagnosis she believed, as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Photo Credit: Leslie D. Rose

After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, she was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for a full week, which began a yearlong second opinion process. During this time, she began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was lter revealed to be fibromyalgia. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion because rarely does she “look sick.”

Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining a light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Rose. This is why she started an online support group for women of color suffering with chronic pain. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, she knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine, and so The Picture of Health was conceived.

Photo Credit: Leslie D. Rose

The one night only exhibit will be held on May 29 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. and is sponsored by Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC, in partnership with Dr. Leone Elliott and The Healthcare Gallery. April Baham will curate the exhibit and will feature brief remarks from invisible illness warriors and medical professionals.


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