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Emergency Physician’s Photography Featured at New Smithsonian Exhibition

Posted on Wed, Apr 12, 2017
Emergency Physician’s Photography Featured at New Smithsonian Exhibition

Envision physician Jeff Gusky, MD, FACEP, lives two lives: one as an emergency physician and the other as a National Geographic photographer, explorer and now television host. His photographs and discoveries have been featured in media and museums around the world – and even on Broadway.

Dr. Gusky, who is an emergency physician at Emergis ER locations in Dallas and Fort Worth, was fortunate to find and photograph a hidden world of World War I, modern underground cities beneath the former trenches in France that once housed tens of thousands of troops at any given time. They were equipped with electricity, railways, telecommunications and the infrastructure of a modern city. One site is more than 25 miles underground in one place, another housed 24,000 troops underground and had a 700-bed hospital. Almost all of these findings are beneath private farmland and unknown to the outside world, even today. Now in complete darkness are thousands of messages that soldiers left behind: notes to loved ones, museum-quality art and inscriptions, names and addresses – a hidden world frozen in time.

The 100-year anniversary of the United States entering World War I was last week. On April 6, an 18-month exhibition of Dr. Gusky’s work opened at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. More than 13 million people are expected to visit the exhibition. This short video, which is part of the exhibition, underscores the connection between emergency medicine, art and exploration.

“My mission as an explorer and artist is identical to my mission in the ER: to help people see and avoid danger,” explains Dr. Gusky. “I strive to inspire hope about the future among ordinary citizens by encouraging people to ask questions about modern life we have forgotten how to ask and by helping to create a language for us to talk about how technology and life in cities affects conscience.”

He made his debut as a television host March 13 on the Smithsonian Channel when the documentary titled “Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI” aired.

Dr. Gusky’s career as an explorer and artist began on a bleak day in December 1995 at the former Nazi concentration camp Plazow, just outside Cracow, Poland. Acting on a hunch while visiting a memorial near the camp’s entrance, he climbed a nearby hill in knee-deep snow. Approaching the top, a barbed wire fence came into view surrounding a Nazi-era compound: an abandoned building with prison-bar windows next to a set of ovens, ashes still present. In the dim light and silence, Dr. Gusky experienced a strong sense that unspeakable acts of barbarism once occurred there. Guided by intuition, he began photographing what he felt, the same method he uses today.
 
Since that day, Dr. Gusky has been on a quest to understand why mass murder and terrorism still threatens us. Exploring places in Poland, Belgium, France, Moldova, Ukraine, Transnistria and Romania, where millions of innocent people have been slaughtered in modern times, he has discovered a common thread to every modern mass murder.
 
“Technology and the inhuman scale of modern life endangers us by making us feel like machines and by disabling our moral compass,” Dr. Gusky said. “My work seeks to help communicate the looming human emergency caused by compromises we make that diminish our humanness.”
 
Dr. Gusky’s first year of medical school at the University of Washington was spent in Alaska as part of the WAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Program, created to inspire students to become country doctors. After graduation, he combined his love of flying and rural medicine and used his plane to reach remote hospital emergency rooms on short notice throughout Texas and Oklahoma. Since 1991, he has taught trauma skills to other physicians as an instructor in the Advanced Trauma Life Support program. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
 
He has published three books, and frequently posts new photographs and videos on his website and social media channels. Several other television productions are in the pipeline.

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