Around Town: Anne Geddes

was in town to exhibit her latest series, Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease.

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Anne Geddes with portraits from "Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease." (Photo by Erica Moody)

Anne Geddes with portraits from Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease. (Photo by Erica Moody)

World-renowned photographer Anne Geddes was in last night to exhibit her new series, Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease, at Toolbox Art Gallery. You know her for baby photos of kids in cabbages and flowerpots, but Geddes is receiving acclaim for a new focus of work – portraits of courageous meningitis survivors.

As a March of Dimes global ambassador, Geddes has been working for years to raise awareness about issues related to children’s health. She spoke last night with survivors of the disease, parents of children who contracted meningitis, and patient advocates, all advocating for the importance of vaccination.

Anne Geddes with survivors Jamie Schanbaum and Kate Healy in front of their portraits.

Anne Geddes with survivors Jamie Schanbaum and in front of their portraits. (Photo by Jennifer Heffner)

The 15 portraits in the series are all survivors of the almost-always fatal disease, ranging from nine months old to 25 years. The disease typically kills within 24 hours of being contracted, beginning with cold and flu-like symptoms and a blotchy purple rash. The portraits “are not meant to shock, but for you to be inspired by their courage,” said Geddes. “Any parent viewing them must surely be moved to action.”

The photographer encouraged parents to download her book (available for free on iBooks at iTunes), to pay close attention when their children are ill and to recognize the symptoms that could indicate something much more serious.

“Its such a serious disease and the symptoms come on so quickly,” Geddes said. “You can be healthy at one point and ill within hours. Remember that you know your child better than anyone else.”

Portrait of Amber, age five by Anne Geddes. (Photo by Erica Moody)

Portrait of Amber, age five by Anne Geddes. (Photo by Erica Moody)

The stunning portraits incorporate a bird’s nest in each photo, to represent “a deceptive strength” and pillars that speak to a sense of “beauty, unity and strength.”

“It was really gratifying, the most positive project I’ve done in thirty years,” Geddes told us. “The families are amazing, the kids were amazing, and there’s a great message. A little five-year-old with no arms and no legs is still a little five-year-old. That’s the spirit of children. They’re quite resilient.”

Geddes left us with a quote from Edgar Allen Poe: “There’s no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.”

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