Most translators are language specialists. They change ancient Greek into English, or English into Mandarin, or speech into American Sign Language. Emily Hromi and Erika Woodrum are translators, too, but of a very different kind: They are artists who change complex and vitally important medical information into imagery that the average person can easily understand.
Their kind of translation is helping the paralyzed to walk again.The two Cleveland Institute of Art students have worked over the last year at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center in University Circle. A local research consortium made up of Case Western Reserve University, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center, the FES Center combines research, medicine and engineering to develop innovative ways of helping people with damaged nerve and muscle systems move and perform normal functions again..
It figures that the FES would have a staff including PhDs, surgeons, therapists and engineers. But artists? Well, think of it this way: The FES Center is a bit like a United Nations of science. All those researchers need to talk with each other, but they speak different scientific languages.