LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trauma survivors shared their stories through a special exhibit at the Speed Art Museum on Wednesday.
UofL Hospital and the J. David Richardson Trauma Center recognized survivors of gunshot wounds, burns and car accidents in an exhibit titled "Live Beyond: A Celebration of Trauma Survivors."
Sixteen survivors' stories were told through photography, words and other artwork.
Olivia Barczynski, a gunshot survivor, can still remember the conversation she had when she stopped at the Stop n' Go gas station on West Oak Street, for chips and a drink.
"'Just give me my phone, there's a location on that, you don't want to be tracked, I don't want anything coming up on me,' and in a matter of seconds he put up the gun and shot me in the face," she said.
Rochell Rushlow, a burn survivor, was cooking food when smoke detectors went off in her home and her daughter grabbed a burning pot off the stove. She opened the door and when the air hit, that's when her life changed.
"[It] caused an explosion and burned my entire left side, and I had wrapped around burns on my right side, and my daughter got flash burns on her face," Rushlow said.
UofL Hospital helped them through their recovery and Wednesday afternoon, their photos were showcased in an exhibit along with decorated hearts that represent survivors and those who didn't make it.
Amy Mattingly, an art therapist, said the strings attached to the hearts represent "a different type of bond and connection between each of our survivors."
The photographer said it's been incredible to capture their story.
"It's changed me, all of their life stories, and just hearing them all together," photographer Scott Perry said.
The writer said this has been an empowering journey and where the therapy begins.
"There is a life after the traumatic experience happened and all that comes along with it; living with it through it and after it," writer Conner Mackowilk said.
Rushlow turned her pain into purpose with her skincare line of sunscreen for people with burned and graphed skin, and Barczynski will continue to advocate for gunshot survivors.
"Being a voice for them, because I needed that at one point, because I didn't have a voice; I wasn't able to talk for three months," she said.
A voice, now being heard and understood.
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