Eric Avery, MD, embraces humanity and printmaking with an enthusiasm that summons admiration, relief and a tinge of guilt. The vitality of the marks he excavates from his sheets of warmed linoleum scream for justice and embrace the marginalized. He has long been an advocate against the scourge and ignorance about HIV and other infectious diseases, against opportune blindness to suffering, human rights, sexuality, and death.
Avery, Emeritus Associate Professor, at The Institute for the Medical Humanities, (University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston), makes no division between his medical practice and art making. As he notes on his web site, “When we tell our stories with our art, metaphorically processing our experience, then we have an opportunity to be healed, especially if someone is listening. Indignant and trauma-filled prints and paper works are hard to sell and art spaces generally do not like to exhibit them. The art business is different from the healing business. Practicing medicine in art spaces reminds us that art and healing were only sundered in this past century and in our culture.” And as Sue Coe, a sometime collaborator with Avery and an artist with an equally intense social agenda, observes: Avery’s work “is the antibody to our disease of distance.”
Dear George is a graphic letter for President George Bush, bringing attention to the mortal consequences of his foreign and domestic policies. Avery adapted the repeating image of coffins from a 1773 broadside produced in Salem, Massachusetts.