Bowel disease inspires Windsor art exhibit

The exhibit, called Gutted, is a project created by three Windsor men, all of whom suffer from bowel disease.

After his Crohn's disease diagnosis, Dave Mutnajkovic started drawing parts of intestines and stomach muscles

Dave Mutnjakovic and Jay Santarossa are two of the artists who created Gutted, an art exhibit focused on bowel disease. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

A new art exhibit in Windsor aims to get people talking about an uncomfortable topic — bowel disease.

The art show, called Gutted, was put together by two artists who understand their subject matter better than most. Both are living with inflammatory bowel disease.

Dave Mutnjakovic was diagnosed with Crohn's, a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, when he was 13. He wants people to know about the experiences those with similar diseases go through.

"It's a disease under the radar. It's embarrassing, it's humiliating, it's terrifying," he said. "I just want people to know I've survived it and made something beautiful out of a horrible experience."

After his diagnosis, Mutnjakovic started drawing parts of intestines and stomach muscles. He found the process calming and self-reflective. 

The art exhibit Gutted is on display at Carrots n' Dates in Walkerville for the next week. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Coping with the symptoms of Crohn's was a challenge for Mutnjakovic, but the art helped him.

"I was on the brink of death. I had two surgeries and then recovered," he said. "It was a hard road and it continued for six, seven years until I discovered this creative expression." 

Mutnjakovic, along with his Windsor friends Jay Santarossa and Neviana Nedeltchev, collaborated to create Gutted — a name they felt was fitting.

"Gutted, for us, is a combination of a few things," Santarossa said. "It's some stomach issues we have dealt with over the years."

The trio say the goal of the project is to get people talking about a subject that typically has been considered awkward.

"We talk about it and band together and laugh about all these humiliating stories, which aren't that humiliating when you can laugh about it," Mutnjajkovic said. "You can live your life like a normal person." 

The exhibit will be on display at Carrots N' Dates café in Walkerville for the next week.