Right-brained radiology: An interview with Dr. John Super, chiropractor and artist.
Dr. John Super, chiropractor and artist, has recently launched Bonaparte Galleries in Toronto, Ontario, creating one-of-a-kind X-ray artwork for medical professionals. A 2001 graduate of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, he practises at Walmer Road Chiropractic Clinic in Toronto’s upscale Forest Hill. Recently, he was married to Hilary Bain, who is the editor-in-chief of the well-loved children’s magazines, Chirp, Chickadee, and Owl, as well as a part-time director of Bonaparte Galleries. His wife also kindly offered her services as interviewer in the creation of this piece.
Why artwork for chiropractors?
When I searched for artwork to hang in my own clinic, I realized my choices were next to nothing. What is available is very specific to illness, patient education, and what chiropractors do. I wanted something that is connected to chiropractic but has an appeal to the general public, artwork that looks colourful and bold and can brighten up an office.
What inspired you to create artwork from X-ray?
I have a large, abstract Kandinsky print on my wall, and one day I had the idea to create something like it, but make it uniquely chiropractic by merging a recognizable X-ray image onto a powerful, vivid background. X-rays are inherently chiropractic in nature – we all had to study them, and we all can read them. In the wide scope of practice that exists in chiropractic today, X-rays are one item that connects us all.
What message are you trying to create with your art?
There is no inherent message, but I am always striving to create a balance between colour and flow. Because the X-rays in my artwork are representative of the original X-rays, and there is some artistic licence in effect, I try to make them all interesting in their own right. If I was to search for a deeper meaning, the images and backgrounds all flow together, and are connected throughout the artwork. As a chiropractor, I do try to stress to my patients that the body is all connected, and one area of the body can and does have an effect on another area of the body.
How do you find the time for both art and chiropractic?
I feel it is important to have a creative outlet, be it music, art, writing, – something that when you step away, you can say, “Look at this thing I created.” For me to practise chiropractic all the time would limit me creatively, and eventually I might burn out.
Does it take time away from your practice?
Yes and no. I really enjoy the artwork, and I wish that I did have more time to pursue it. But I have a practice to run, and that’s my number-one priority. When not in the office, I have to find time to run the website, and respond to orders. I speak with everyone who calls with questions, because the art is a personal product, and I want them to have something that represents their office and personality. All in all, I don’t get much sleep these days.
How do your patients respond to this art, which is so specialized?
My patients think it’s cool and different. Sometimes I come into a room and see a patient just looking at a print, and I ask, “Do you know what it is?” and they say, “Kind of.” At that point, I usually give them a quick anatomy lesson using the X-ray.
What is your artistic background?
I do not have a formal art education, but I’ve always been artistic and creative and I have a passion for computers. Connecting my love of art and my love of computers was a natural. All my art is done using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, CorelDRAW, and a Wacom tablet. The X-rays are scanned into my computer. Then, I trace the shape of the bones, create a background, and start to superimpose and blend the two images together.
Who is George P. Esterhouse?
When I first started Bonaparte Galleries, I did not want to be a chiropractor by day, artist by night, so I made up George, wrote him a bio, and placed him front and centre. He even signs the prints! These days, George is really a silent partner. I do most of the grunt work, yet he gets the glory. Go figure.
How long does it take to create each piece?
Each piece takes several hours. At the moment, I am using a set of nine X-rays, with a few more waiting. I’m looking forward to expanding beyond the chiropractic community to other areas, incorporating facial X-rays for dentists, foot X-rays for the podiatrists, and dog and cat X-rays for the animal practitioners.•
Editor’s Note: For additional information, or to contact Dr. Super, visit www.bonapartegalleries.com.
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