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2024 Submissions

Showcasing a variety of artworks presented by clinicians, scientists, educators, and people who live with pain.

This year, we are delighted to accept submissions from CPS members until 1700h on April 27, 2024!

Path to the Zombie's Studio

Reilly Fitzgerald

It is not noticeable from the image, but it has been painted on a canvas stretched on a repurposed and twisted frame, which I normally would re-stretch or discard; this is to symbolise the hidden ailment of chronic pain. Inspired by an actual scene in my life, there are many figurative elements. This is my shed/studio where I have lived and created for more than a decade to remove myself and the experience of my pain from my family, so they do not have to share and endure my suffering.I painted a winter scene because, like winter, overbearing chronic pain is a form of death, where most previous aspects of living that were a part of one’s personality and individuality are taken away; People suffering chronic pain essentially become the living dead. I painted a hint of this zombie image in the studio window.The path through the snow symbolises the difficulty of making one’s way through the impeding snow-covered landscape of a life with pain. In reference to the theme of “Shared Horizons” the painting has a partially obscured horizon, blocked by trees and branches, revealing that although we share a view of the same horizon, one’s perspective can make that threshold unclear and obstructed. The colours are almost monochromatic with shadows covering most of the landscape, showing the absence of variation, colour, and vitality in a life consumed with constant suffering; however there is a luminosity and occasional swath of bright yellow symbolizing hope on the horizon and reflected in the landscape. In order to survive and even be successful while living with pain one has to focus on the few positives, such as my personal ability to paint and create so that I have a therapeutic release, a purpose, and a contribution to society.

This is EPIC: simulation Education regarding Pain to Improve Care

Monakshi Sawhney

Simulation education, using standardized patient actors is a unique way to provide pain management education in health care settings to practicing clinicians. It is an opportunity to practice assessment skills and critical thinking in a safe environment that mimics the patient care setting. Our team implemented this concept at a hospital in Canada with a focus on researching the outcomes of a simulation intervention for nurses who care for patients receiving epidural analgesia for pain management after surgery. This photograph depicts the real to life patient care environment that was created for this study.

Stressors and Saviours

Lisa Kimberly Glickman

"Stressors and Saviours" is a symbolic portrayal of the intricate dance between anguish and solace, manifesting in a surrealistic image that mirrors the artist's inner turmoil and resilience. The canvas is a tapestry of contrasting elements. On the left, the stressors emerge, looming ominously like dark clouds on the horizon. A spectral image of financial burdens casts a shadow, its tendrils reaching out like gnarled roots, ensnaring the mind in worry. Nearby, a swarm of carpenter ants and earwigs scuttle in chaotic patterns, representing the relentless intrusion of anxieties real and imagined, their presence magnified by the fear of impending collapse. Flames lick at the edges, a visual manifestation of the ever-present dread of house fires, their flickering tongues threatening to consume all in their path. Amidst this turmoil, the artist's twin daughters are depicted by their vulnerable state as they struggle with Celiac and Crohn's diseases. The artist’s shoulders bleed: this is the source, coming through her nerves in the back: acute brachial neuritis. Contrasting this, the saviours emerge as beacons of hope. Things that bring the artist joy: animals, nature, children, reading, art-making. Offering solace. Lotus flowers represent the possibility of re-birth. Through "Stressors and Saviours," the artist invites viewers to embark on a journey of introspection, navigating the turbulent seas of adversity while clinging steadfastly to the life rafts of joy and resilience. It is a poignant reminder that amidst life's storms, there is always beauty to be found, and strength to be drawn from the depths of the human spirit.

Long Horizons

Calah Myhre

This piece draws inspiration from Salvador Dali’s work The Elephants, where the march of time is depicted by long legged creatures, distorted and stretched by experience. In Long Horizons, the intertwined and elongated humans represent those with chronic pain, finding strength and resilience in community, beneath a cracked sunset.

A Million Miles

Ilsa Sejean

Poem living with chronic pain

Broken Spine Tacks

Brenda Lau

AI Submission - It is a truest representation of one of my patients' description of the full presentation including TMJ, neck pain and occipital headaches with neuropathic pain post MVA.

Creating Chronic Pain Action and Collaborations through Intersectionality and Interactions

Sandra Woods

The denim-style background of this piece signals the inclusion of all people, and is meant to evoke the interwoven nature of cloth; how interweaving separate threads can create a strong and resilient fabric. In much the same way, concrete actions to improve clinical care, research, and training in the areas of pain and chronic pain are strongest when different perspectives are woven into decision-making.Starting from the bottom left, the six interconnected lines in this painting represent Policymakers, People living with pain (also called Patients here), Caregivers, Trainees, Researchers, and Clinicians.Policymakers cross the scene diagonally at a high level, clearly affecting all other sectors, with a partially blurred line to show that their roles in decision-making aren’t always obvious.The next line represents People living with pain, with a much lower level of influence. This line is mostly blurred, as the roles of Patients in decision-making and policy-making are seldom clear. Caregivers are next, blurred for the same reasons as for the People they care for, also with a generally low level of influence in decision- and policy-making.At the fourth line we find Trainees, with more opportunities for interactions with Clinicians, Researchers, and even Policymakers, but less direct contact with Patients and Caregivers.The next two lines represent Clinicians and Researchers, with increasing influence in specific situations, and perhaps the greatest opportunity to influence Policymakers.

Planting Seeds in the Wind

Ezinne Ekediegwu

Within this evocative artwork lies a profound narrative that encapsulates the enduring struggle of a patient suffering from endometriosis, whose existence is characterized by persistent pain and weakness. Through her poignant portrayal, the artist conveys the individual's unwavering commitment to raising awareness and fostering understanding of this debilitating disease within her challenging societal context.The central figure, adorned in traditional Nigerian attire, serves as a poignant representation of the broader societal challenges faced by individuals grappling with endometriosis in Nigeria. The deep crimson hue of her garments symbolizes the profound suffering endured and perpetuated by the disease. With a hand firmly clasped to her abdomen, the locus of her anguish, she endeavours to scatter seeds into the wind. These seeds serve as potent symbols of her tireless efforts to sow awareness and enlightenment regarding her condition. Yet, the wind itself serves as a metaphor for the societal currents that buffet her efforts, for the prevailing ignorance and indifference that shroud endometriosis within her community.Indeed, statistics reveal a staggering reality: one in ten women are afflicted by endometriosis, yet awareness remains alarmingly scarce. In Nigeria, the dearth of specialized medical practitioners exacerbates the plight, with no more than two Endometriosis specialists navigating the complex terrain of this condition. Globally, the paucity of knowledge and the absence of a definitive cure cast a shadow over the lives of countless individuals.The tragic narrative continues with accounts of medical practitioners dismissing patients' symptoms as imaginary, prescribing ineffective treatments, and even subjecting sufferers to ridicule and mockery. Consequently, delayed diagnoses and preventable tragedies ensue, perpetuating a cycle of suffering and despair.Yet, amidst the darkness, a beacon of hope emerges. Through her resolute advocacy and unwavering determination, the protagonist endeavours to illuminate the shadows shrouding endometriosis. Her indomitable spirit serves as a rallying cry, compelling society to confront its collective ignorance and apathy. Thus, through her courageous crusade, she endeavours to sow the seeds of awareness and understanding, nurturing a brighter future for generations to come.

Blurred Perceptions

Bianca Matthews

The awareness to action gap: a catalyst for broken promises, a blurry future, and misty realities. Otherwise known as the evidence to practice gap, this picture embodies the essence of the overproduction of pain research and a lack of the utilization of the produced evidence to create tangible solutions. The blurred horizon embodies the feeling of uncertainty in the future and uncertainty on whether or not hope is possible. The picture is taken on a Fujifilm F10 (a vintage digital camera) to simulate the fact that we are still using old pain solutions to treat new pain realities. And with that, we ignore the nuance, the diversity, and individuality in each person’s pain stories. Similar to how this photo’s graininess leads to the viewer to miss out on the intricate details of the water, beach, or horizon. The man looking at the horizon, slightly off center, is meant to embody the patients’ feeling of not having their voices uplifted and centered in our research. Without taking heed of their concerns of the lack of pain research translation, they are left gazing into blurry futures. Thus this photo highlights the importance of ensuring we are not just raising awareness, but putting our words into action to mitigate blurry pain futures.

Sharing in a Cup of Tea

Yvonne Brandelli and Nicole MacKenzie

Healing hurt begins with comfort and conversation, much like sharing in a cup of tea. As easily as we can share a cup of tea, we can share knowledge to impact the lives of children living with pain and their families. Each piece of this tea set embodies the knowledge and strength of those around the table. The teapot represents knowledge holders - with waves symbolizing the knowledge that sustains and rejuvenates diverse life forms, and the spouted vessel reflecting the flow of water to those in need. The cups represent families, designed with sprouts to symbolize different ages and stages of life. Despite this difference, both continue to benefit from the nourishment provided by water. Pediatric pain can take a physical and mental toll on families, as represented by the cracks in one of the cups. These cracks, however, have been repaired with the knowledge and support of those around the table. The repair not only allows for resumed function; it also adds an element of fortitude and growth - the epitome of resilience. The pieces on their own are not functional – the teapot with nowhere to pour tea and the cups with nothing to fill them. These pieces are best when together, just as clinicians, researchers, and families are most effective when they work together to generate and share knowledge about pain. We are most effective when we sit together – over a cup of tea.

The Agony of Burning Pain

Stefano Foglia

This painting is painted in oils on a linen canvas. It depicts a silhouette of a woman hunched over with her hand on her face in agony of the burning pain she is feeling represented by the flames coming off of her.

In the Silence, I Still Hear your Voice

Ella Crompton

Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened that night, if I called for you and you didn’t answer.If sleep had kept you under its weight and my voice didn’t slip through the cracks.If the tears that cascaded down my face didn’t worry you, if my words didn’t frighten you.I wonder what I would’ve done.But I also wonder what it was like for you.For you to hear my voice slip through the cracks, breaking with every word.For you to see my tears as they poured down my cheeks.I wonder how scared you felt.What I never wonder though, is why, when I sit in silence, I hear your voice.When I speak into nothingness, with no response, your voice echoes around my head.I never wonder, I never will, even when I thought I lost everything; I never lost you.

City of Hidden Stories

Yu Tong Huang

My piece aims to visually portray multiple facets of the modern society for people living with chronic pain, who make up about 1/5th of the Canadian population. While chronic pain, and its resulting functional, social, and psychological burdens, weigh heavily on every aspect, every second, of their daily lives, it is often difficult to discern, when strolling in the city, those suffering from it. This is amplified by the isolation and facade many adopt to avoid judgement for being "dramatic" or "drug-seeking". The red hues represent the people living various chronic pain conditions, hidden within the crowd. This piece makes an attempt to represent certain groups, such as women, veterans, and elderly people, that are disproportionately affected by chronic pain conditions. Only with collective, multifaceted progress in areas such as education. stigma. healthcare, and research can our society hope to improve their quality of life and walk toward a brighter horizon.

Bearing the Weight Together

Tharini Manikandan

In a world where the weight of chronic pain can sometimes feel unbearable, you can find beauty in the company, support and love. In my drawing titled "Bearing the Weight Together," the essence of empathy, support, and collective action amidst the struggle of chronic pain is captured. At the forefront of theis picture, there is a figure, burdened by the weight of an immense load. Their posture reflects the strain of carrying this heavy burden, while their expression conveys the depth of their struggle. Yet, surrounding them are figures bathed in warmth and light, their helping hands reaching out in a gesture of compassionate assistance. Each helping hand adds a burst of colour and vitality to the scene, resembling the transformative power of empathy and community. The interplay of light and shadow highlights the contrasting aspects of human existence: the somber depths of pain and adversity as opposed to the illuminating warmth of empathy and companionship. The burden is depicted with attention to detail, allowing viewers to feel its texture and weight, while the people in the artwork demonstrate that they're determined and strong even when things are tough. Through subtle symbolism and storytelling, "Bearing the Weight Together" invites viewers to contemplate the complexities of chronic pain and the importance of community in navigating life's challenges. It speaks to the universal human experience of struggle and resilience, reminding us that even in our darkest hours, we are never truly alone. While pain may be an inevitable part of the human condition, so too is the capacity for compassion and collective healing. In a world where the weight of chronic pain can sometimes feel unbearable, "Bearing the Weight Together" offers a glimpse of the beauty that emerges when we come together to lighten each other's burdens and forge shared horizons of hope and healing.

Storm-Trapped Dreams

Nashmil Ehsaei

Hi, I'm Nashmil, and I have a story shrouded in darkness. Once, I thrived as a successful graphic designer, with a multitude of advertising clients and orders. I reveled in the art of playing with colors, shapes, typography, and layout... until an unforeseen tempest struck. In an instant, my radiant world was engulfed in darkness, plagued by double vision and relentless dizziness. The vibrant hues I once cherished had faded away. A diagnosis followed, revealing a rare autoimmune disease affecting my eyelid, casting a shadow over my entire existence. The only thing I could hold onto was my smile... I hoped it was fleeting. Even the longest night will end, and the sun will rise. So I smile.

Never Give Up Hope

Mael Gagnon Mailhot

The painting was done after I lost the ability to do everything I loved due to chronic pain. It was the first thing I created once I started to learn how to live with chronic pain.

Learning About Pain

Maria Zamfir

Learning About PainThis work shows unique and approachable neuron characters both experiencing and investigating pain pathways. This is the cover art for a book that we created to explain Touch & Pain to children and the general public. The illustrations in the book (not yet submitted), are also created specifically to share knowledge of touch, pain and pain relief.

Beyond Words

Brent Parno

Throughout the last 5 years plus of dealing with many health issues, from as simple as kidney stones, migraines, constant headaches, tinnitus, to IBS, to Gilliam Barre Syndrome, constant neuropathy ,Castlemans Disease, Lung Cancer, hyperparathyroidism, and FND, chronic pain is at the forefront.I hope my painting “ Beyond Words” has the power to inspire those in the health care community to truly get a small sense/feeling of what chronic pain feels like and go beyond awareness to action to help others like me find some relief/reprieve from the everyday day struggle of pain.

A Dream, Weightless

Soula Mantalvanos

Identity intrigues me. I choose to explore ideas of identity and self-perception. Together they represent the interconnectedness of culture, heritage and person; together, they form a complex tapestry of life experiences - my life experiences - one of which is living with chronic pain.The subject I am most familiar with is me.This self-portrait embodies all this while paying homage to the ’still life’ - a genre that inspires and propels my work.

Many Hands Make Light Work

Irina Kudrina

It depicts a middle-aged female profile of a medical professional living with a chronic pain condition. The image reflects multiple dilemmas and responsibilities closely intertwined with personal challenges of being an “atypical” pain clinician-scientist from an ethnic minority background. The “atypical” professional background continues representing a serious obstacle for many female academic physicians, but most of all for the family medicine specialists, to thrive in the pain field. This precious source of knowledge and experience for the most part remains untapped. The art is an opportunity to draw attention to the continuous effort of many female scientists, including from primary care, to promote their personal and professional knowledge to nurture broader conversations, cease important opportunities for dialogue and share their discoveries and understanding of the complexities of chronic pain. Together, we are better equipped to offer innovative and person-focused solutions to address chronic pain management at all levels, from an individual and community to the equity-seeking groups and even medical professionals living and working with chronic pain.

Embrace: Maybe not a Cure, but Definitely Help

Veronica Dudarev

Persistent pain is a lot of things, and what is often overlooked in this boatload is that persistent pain is isolating. It limits, sometimes severely, one’s participation in life and social relationships. While persistent pain usually exposes one to a lot of medical attention, it also drives one’s friends away. Many people with chronic pain find that there are fewer people whom they can still call friends. For many people, persistent pain causes conflicts within the family and sometimes leads to a divorce. Indeed, it is challenging to be in a relationship with a person with chronic pain. Why it is so is a good question, and maybe a complex issue that involves both our natural desire to form relationships with successful people, our tendency to avoid frustrations (and pain is very frustrating in oneself and others), and probably a bit of empathy too. It is painful to look at someone in pain, and research shows that seeing someone in pain activates the same network in the brain that is involved in experiencing pain. Whatever the forces are, the result is that loneliness is a huge issue for people with persistent pain.And it exacerbates pain. It likely does, research suggests. To be more precise, presence and support of other people alleviates pain. This is why I gave this ink painting this title: Embrace, maybe not a cure, but definitely help. Being kind and patient with people is not such a bad idea in general, and we humans may need reminders about that all the time (myself included). For people with persistent pain this is even more true. There is a lot of frustration in and around them, a lot of pain, which is unpleasant inside and outside. Yet one simple way to help is to simply be there.

Pain and Professional Identity Horizons

Irina Kudrina

This piece speaks to the hope for more team-based care in our health care system. In my journey with chronic pain, I have been carved into pieces by every medical and health professional I sought care from, particularly in those systems that limit your visit to a single inquiry for the allotted minutes of care.Having to choose which parts of me got attention and which had to wait created this constant tug of war in my mind, forcing me to have to decide which parts felt the worst and deserved attention. When in reality, every piece of me needed to be assessed. And the most important part, the one that was never inquired about, but that required the most attention of all, was my mind.Since finally acknowledging all of the pieces of me and advocating for whole-self care, I feel hope once more that I may find relief, or at least, acceptance, of a life with pain. The many hands in this piece are all of the practitioners from physical therapists, medical doctors, holistic healers, to trauma counsellors that have helped in my efforts to put the pieces of me back together.I intentionally kept the piece as a black and white sketch to illustrate the simplicity of the concept of team-based care. There are some parts that will be simple to solve once the right hands and minds come together, and others that will require more investigations and care, but having the right hands involved and removing the barriers to accessing those hands is the action that will help us to move forward.

Kept Hidden

Tarannum Rahnuma

Winner of our Pain Professional Category

Description of the Techniques: This painting was made with acrylic on canvas.

My piece aims to capture the lived experiences of those with chronic pain, which affects approximately 1 in 5 Canadians. The daily struggle of managing chronic pain can make even the simplest tasks challenging, particularly in social situations where individuals may feel pressured to conceal their symptoms to avoid being stigmatized or perceived as a burden. My painting captures the emotional and physical toll of masking pain in social settings, particularly during happy occasions such as celebrations. Through "Kept Hidden", I hope to foster greater empathy and understanding of the experiences of those living with chronic pain. I believe that by raising awareness and encouraging dialogue, we can create a more supportive and inclusive society that recognizes the challenges faced by those with pain.

Waves of Grief

Newton Martin

Winner of our Person with Lived Experience Category

Description of the Techniques: Vector Art.

Pain hinders our ability to pay attention to the things that matter. When I feel pain I'm often anxious, desperately looking for a place to escape or withdraw. On other days I am bold and motivated to carry on despite the fatigue and stress. It is easy to see the bigger picture when experiencing acute pain and stressors, because we know it will go away soon. However, many people in the world today are in pain over-and-over again. Each painful experience becomes a barrier for people to live a full and enjoyable life. This art piece manifests the uncertainty of long-term painful experiences. The waves of varying color signifies the emotional weight associated with our unsettling or anxious experiences. The sun adds hope to the picture because through the trashing and beating of the waves the sun never ceases to shine. When we take a step back and picture our lives from a different angle, the collage of our collective experiences becomes less of a mess and more of a masterpiece. In time, our experiences transform from being a barrier into being fuel for personal narrative and character.

Invisible Isolation

Aislinn L.

Winner of our Person with Lived Experience Category

Description of the Techniques: Pencil and watercolor.

“Invisible Isolation”, represents how I feel as a young woman living with many forms of chronic pain. At times, I feel trapped, like I cannot break free, as if an invisible force field is restricting me. I can see the world moving on around me, I am visible to others, and yet I am not truly seen. Physically and externally I appear as any other young woman, but on the inside, I suffer crippling and excruciating pain from a medical condition that is a mystery to most people. For individuals suffering from chronic pain, daily life is completely altered; we push ourselves to break free, but often feel trapped in a crowd of seclusion.

Our 2023 Winners

We understand the profound symbolism titles or descriptions hold within the context of their artists languages. We warmly welcome bilingual titles and descriptions, but present them exactly as the artist has intended.

Submission Categories

You can submit your art to one of four categories; Scientific Visualizations (e.g., MRI, Microscopy), Classical Art Forms (e.g., Illustrations, Paintings), Photographic and Video Captures, and AI-Driven Innovations.


The top 5 entries from each category, as determined by members' votes, will be showcased in printed format by the Awards Committee and prominently displayed during our Annual Scientific Meeting in Ottawa.


Voting for this year's winners is up to our Canadian Pain Society members!  Voting is open until April 25th, 2024 by 4pm ET.  Not a member yet?

Information and submission guidelines for our next Art Award will open late 2024.

Journey through the intertwined narratives of individuals with lived experiences of persistent pain, researchers, clinicians, trainees, policymakers, and caregivers. Their hopes, needs, and dedicated efforts come alive in every piece. Through art, we don't merely promote understanding; we inspire action.


Art here doesn’t just foster understanding - it propels us to act. By bridging gaps, nurturing conversations, and sparking collaborations, we unite to confront the complexities of chronic pain, driven by a singular mission: to lessen suffering and advance pain management solutions.

Celebrating the Beauty and Power of Art

Explore 2024 Winners and Submissions from Previous Years

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