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  • Writer's pictureAndrea L Merrill

Areta Bojko: Artist

I just completed my obstetrics and gynecology residency at Tufts Medical Center and will be starting as a gynecologic oncology fellow at Women and Infants Hospital in Rhode Island this summer. My project began as an idea early on in my residency training, but only materialized during my final year.

I remember seeing blood run through the suction tubing during a case I was in as an intern and taking note of its distinct pattern. It was intermittently fast and fleeting with streaks of red, then would slow down and become small droplets weaving their way to the canister. It was mesmerizing in a way and I began to notice other patterns in the operating room, how the red droplets contrasted with the sterile blue drapes or the stark white operating room floor. 

These frames repeated themselves countless times over the years and at one point I realized how beautiful they were and how much depth and story there was behind these patterns. What was left on the operating room floor was often quite beautiful and represented the experience of a woman who trusted our team to take care of her, to help her live a better life with less pain or bleeding. These photographs represented a journey of a person who had an experience that brought them to a point of desperation requiring an invasive procedure. 

It struck me that these stories are so quiet in our culture, especially in women's health, and that very few people would actually know what my patients had gone through in their lives leading up to and after their surgeries. I realized that there was a place for these patterns outside of the operating room, to serve a purpose and to start a conversation. Some of my pieces are black and white, purposefully to be disguised as perhaps an abstract pattern that sparks a question and may be displayed without the jarring color of red blood. But others serve a shock factor that begs discussion immediately.

Each appeal to a different audience but with the same goal. To ignite questions - What is a hysterectomy? Your mother had one? For what purpose? What was her recovery like? These are windows into experiences and ultimately open the door for vulnerability, connection, community, togetherness.I feel lucky to have found this field that brings together so much meaning, connection, longitudinal care and community. 

My photos are for sale through direct message (framed and unframed) and a portion of all proceeds are going to Foundation for Women's Cancer. Six of my prints remain displayed at Neighborhood Wines in the South End of Boston and my work was recently highlighted in The Boston Globe Ideas section:

Follow along on Instagram at @post_op_art. 

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