In June of 1997, the city of Detroit was flying high. The Red Wings had won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. The players, the fans, everyone in Detroit was enjoying this beautiful moment in sports history. The glory would be short lived however. A mere 6 days after winning the Cup, a limo carrying defensemen Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov and trainer Sergei Mnatsakanov crashed into a tree. Fetisov was lucky, escaping with only minor injuries. For Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov, the prognosis was much graver. Both had sustained serious head injuries. Their lives were forever changed and Konstantinov would never play hockey again.
This very well could have been the sad end to an amazing story of a hockey player who could do it all. A gritty defenseman that struck fear into the hearts of other players on the ice, Konstantinov could skate, score and check with the best of them. Having sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) Vlady (as he is known to his friends and fans) now had new challenges set before him. Through the help of caregivers and rehab, he set out on a difficult path to find a new life, very different than the one he known before.
It was with the help of one of his caregivers that Vlady found a new passion… art. Through this unexpected gift, he found a way to express his feelings and emotions in a completely different way. Over the years, Vlady worked with different therapists and rehab centers. However, Dr. Nancy Mann, Vlady’s physician knew about the incredible work that Therapeutic Rehab Center and Gallery U & Boutique were doing with TBI clients. She recommended that Vlady get involved with their program. Vlady had worked with Therapeutic Rehab Center early in his recovery, so he and his family knew the quality of care that they offered and agreed to have an art show with all of Vlady’s work.
“We are honored to present and showcase his work” said Susan Miller, Director of Marketing and Admissions for Universal Institute. She went on to say how Vlady is an inspiration to others that have suffered TBIs. It shows that TBIs do not discriminate and can happen to anyone. And though life dramatically changes, there is still so much that can be accomplished.
The show, called Animals and Inspirations, will be at Gallery U & Boutique in Royal Oak on November 17, 2011 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. (To find out more about Gallery U & Boutique and the incredible work they do, please read Gallery U: Art and Inspiration). Vlady and his family will be in attendance. Vlady has personally signed and hand framed his pieces and anyone who makes a purchase will be able to have their picture taken with Vlady and the art. “We are very excited for Vlady the artist” said Barb Hill, Vocational Director for Therapeutic Rehab Centers, “We are hoping that this show will go very well and that he will continue to do shows in the future.”
Vlady’s work is both beautiful and haunting. The pictures run the gamut of emotions. As Ashley Cook, Vocational Rehab Tech, describes it, there are the lighter, happier feeling pieces and then the darker, angrier ones as well. They demonstrate “the full range of emotions” that he has had throughout the course of his recovery. Vlady works mostly in painting and watercolor, but also does some paper, assemblage art.
Vlady will have 42 pieces on display at the show, all of which will be available for purchase. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Michigan Brain Injury Association.
In addition to being one of the greatest defensemen in hockey, Vlady now has some other titles to add to his resume… artist, role model and inspiration, just to name a few. Hopefully, Vlady’s success in the art world will help inspire others out there. Not just individuals that have suffered TBIs, but everyone. There are many athletes that, for whatever reasons, don’t make it in their sport. Vlady can show them that there are other career paths besides professional athletics. In addition, he is an inspiration to all that have difficult obstacles to overcome in life. He has shown that through hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.
For more information on Gallery U & Boutique or the Animals and Inspiration Exhibit, please contact Susan Miller at (248) 408-0128 or visit http://www.uirehab.com/.