a message from Kupona

At the end of this month, we will say goodbye to the Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula exhibition, as the remaining pieces return to the UK. As you can see from the reviews below, it has been very popular! If you were inspired by the stories behind this collection, or moved by the power of these portraits, it’s not too late to give them a permanent home.
‘In the banda’, 21.3″x13″, chalk pastel, 2015
The drawings, by artist Dr. Jac Saorsa, shine a spotlight on the silent tragedy of obstetric fistula and are a celebration of the resilience, courage and unadulterated beauty of the women who inspired the work.

Time is running out! Email Alexandra, or call us (+1.518.595.9007) by August 21st to discuss a purchase. You can view the available artwork here, and read the story behind the work in our exhibition catalog. Proceeds from sales support life changing treatment for women living with fistula.

We look forward to hearing from you,
Abbey Kocan
Executive Director, Kupona Foundation
Reviews of Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula:

“Not only does the artist capture the transformative power of a successful surgery, but also the inherent stigma-busting power of a woman who is unafraid to tell her story as someone living with or having lived with a fistula.”

“For those of us who believe that art has a place in society beyond the aesthetic, this collection of striking pieces by Jac Saorsa merits attention. It sheds light – and hope – on women whose very existence is barely recognized in mainstream narratives.”

“I am an art lover, so understand the power of art on our consciousness. I also know how hard it is to discuss obstetric fistula. I think the art show, arranged by Kupona, is a fabulous forum to raise the consciousness of the public to this tragic condition – in a way that is beautiful, meaningful, yet not ‘in your face’ and confrontational.”


New Exhibition Page!

Check out the new page (click on link above) for a slide show highlighting the NY show!

A clay head, and a second visit to Tanzania


Here is a clay head that I made as a piece for the current exhibition at the Waterloo Teahouse gallery in Cardiff. It is based on some of the drawings and portraits in the show. My thanks to all those who are continuing to support the exhibition as it runs to the end of the month, your feedback has been very encouraging and sometimes very moving.  I am looking forward to seeing some of you there tomorrow evening when I and Professor Alison Fiander will be giving a talk and inviting discussion about the Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula Project. For those of you unable to attend I will post a transcript of Alison’s talk here on the site after the event.

I am looking forward also to traveling back to Tanzania next month where I will be visiting the The Mabinti Centre. I will be running creative workshops with the women there who are learning how to build new lives for themselves, having undergone fistula surgery. I am hoping to create another body of work when I get back for an exhibition next year in the US.

the Cardiff Launch!

Here are a few pictures from the Cardiff launch of the Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula project. It was a lovely night both inside and outside the venue with the evening sunshine bringing in a good crowd! Thanks to everyone who came and supported us and thanks also to those who have already purchased some of the works. All are on sale and proceeds will go towards continuing to develop the project.

IMG_0474 IMG_0425 IMGP8494 IMGP8487 IMGP8495 IMGP8511 IMG_0410 IMG_0476 IMG_0368 IMG_0408 IMG_0411

great news for the Drawing out OF project!

The Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula Project is set to continue in a big way thanks to much appreciated support from Johnson and Johnson and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Johnson and Johnson, who sponsored the exhibition last month at the RCOG in London are now supporting me to return to Tanzania in September. I will be working there with the women who are recovering from fistula surgery and are staying at the Mabinti Centre in Dar Es Salaam where they are being supported physically and psychologically while learning creative and business skills in order to resume a normal life. I visited Mabinti on my first visit to Dar (see previous post) and this time, along with making sketches and notes to produce a further body of work for the project, I will be running drawing and lino-cut printing workshops with the women there.

At the Mabinti Centre , Dar Es Salaam

At the Mabinti Centre , Dar Es Salaam

Johnson & Johnson, a long standing supporter of fistula programmes, makes great efforts to reduce fistula and maternal mortality by ‘scaling-up’ access to maternal health services and skilled birth attendants.The infographic below was produced for the Campaign to End Fistula in partnership with Johnson and Johnson.

Fistula Infographic - JNJ UNFPA - 500K

Fistula Infographic – JNJ UNFPA – 500K

I am looking forward very much to the trip, and to making new work towards a major exhibition at  the Johnson and Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick NJ next year, before touring around public venues throughout the USA!

Cardiff launch of project with exhibition of new work

Page1Here is the poster for our new exhibition in Cardiff throughout August this year. I hope that those of you who are in the area might get a chance to see it while it is up. On AUGUST 19th, 6.30 – 8.30pm, myself and Alison Fiander, surgeon and Clinical Lead for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Leading Safe Choices Programme, will be at the Waterloo Gardens Teahouse to give a public talk, and discuss the ongoing development of the project. All are welcome and refreshments will be available.

The Exhibition at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, May 2015: Now ONLINE!!

The Private View of the projects first exhibition took place yesterday evening at The RCOG in Regents Park, London. It was a great night and very successful!  The show will remain at the RCOG until June 5th and if you are in or near London you can find out full details on how to visit here: Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula.

Below you can find all images of all the work on show, along with the short speech I gave on the night!

First of all of course I would like to thank the RCOG for giving me the opportunity me to show my work here at this important event. It is a privilege to play even a small part in acknowledging this year’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. I would like also to thank the sponsors Johnson and Johnson, and of course all of you who have come here to make tonight very special.

As an artist I believe very strongly that images have the capacity to communicate in ways that go far beyond the limitations of words. I suppose then that given my own images are all over the walls here I shouldn’t say too much more!

However, what’s most important I think to say is that my work is about experience and I understand what I do as an‘act of witness’. This exhibition then is not meant to be simply portraits of specific individuals, it rather uses the concept of portraiture itself as a framework for an expression of my own very powerful experience of simply being with these women, on their own terms, and trying to understand their unique experiences of what they were going through.

When I first talked with Alison about going to visit CCBRT in Tanzania I was unsure of how the sort of work I do could be of any help or value. But on getting there, and simply being within the environment of the Fistula Clinic, I found that not only did drawing take on a new kind of meaning in that situation, indeed I had to reassess much of the way I understood many things in life. My inability to speak Swahili, and the often very stark cultural differences between myself and the women there, rather than being limitations, actually became vehicles towards what felt like far deeper forms of communication. We conversed through expression, though gesture, and most importantly through the content of the images I was constantly, almost obsessively drawing in my sketchbook. My experience of their experience then was, as I said, very powerful and moving and as an artist, and most importantly as a human being, it demonstrated very profoundly that, the language of the visual allows us to reach a mutuality beyond linguistic and cultural boundaries. Art touches the intuitive and emotional part of us. It responds to the basic human need to be acknowledged and appreciated by others. I hope then that you will enjoy the drawings in the exhibition here and appreciate the resilience, the courage, and the unadulterated beauty of the women who inspired them.

Please note that all the works (where not otherwise indicated) are for sale: Drawings 1-10 (approx. 150x120cms: £1750, Drawings 11-13 (approx: 60x42cms) £975. A percentage of the proceeds will help fund the further development of the project. Please contact me should you be interested in purchasing any of the work.

(Please respect my copyright: ask my permission before reproducing any of these images or any others that appear on my sites) ENJOY!

1 The Examination Room122334SOLD556 The Ward6778SOLD99101011SOLD12SOLD1313