Scars to Strokes

Fallen Angel
Fallen Angel, Medium: oil on panel, Dimensions: 24 x 36 inches
The Operation
The Operation, Medium: oil on panel, Dimensions: 36 x 24 inches
Collaboration, Medium: oil on panel, Dimensions: 24 x 36 inches
Distracted, Medium: oil on panel, Dimensions: 24 x 36 inches

Artist Information and Statement

Raeef Hanna
BFA Candidate


What are scars? Are they always visible? Can you identify them and always remember their causes? Or do they last for a certain time and then eventually fade away? I have spent most of my life in and out of hospitals leaving me with many visible scars from various surgeries. The more I analyzed those marks, the more I realized they were eventually strokes, and my body is the canvas. I often found emotional strength through my work and learned to leave my own stroke on the human canvas, a stroke that has helped me reveal emotional human expressions. I can’t help but admire, and even idolize, one of the greatest American painters of the 19th century, Thomas Eakins. His eye for detail and skill in which he manipulates the paint to represent his subjects captivates my attention. In Eakins’ The gross clinic painting, he illustrates a surgery being performed to bring awareness to the advancement of science in the medical field. Eakins’ style of painting has inspired my work tremendously.

In my work, I set the scene of a hospital operating room, encompassed by spotlights, latex gloves, scissors and needles and I am simply an impression of the surgeon below the spotlight who is prepared to leave another stroke on a canvas. The ghosts of surgical nurses surrounding me during operation still haunts me with every mark I make. The ring of light around the spotlight represents a halo because only angels endure the pain caused by the scars.

I remember being on the operating bed, staring into the ring of light and thinking how much longer do I have to endure this pain? Years later, I realized it only helped me better myself. I was once an empty canvas and now I’m filled with beautiful strokes.