After more than 30 years of taking care of patients, doctor Michael Dworkind is gaining attention for artistry of a whole other kind.
The palliative care physician, now in semi-retirement, creates works of whimsical art made entirely of junk.
It’s a passion that Dworkind has been quietly expressing for decades. Dworko – as he is known in the art world – has been transforming discarded trash found on the sidewalk into works of art.
“Unfortunately in our Canadian society we throw out so much good stuff,” Dworkind said. “Garbage day in NDG is my heaven.”
His creations include monstrous faces using shower heads, door stoppers and plungers, and a sculpture of a fiery phoenix with a broom head and construction clamps for a beak.
His art brings out untold reactions from people trying to decipher the piece itself but also the pieces it’s made out of.
“It’s humorous because people say things: ‘this comes from there, that from there; Ahh isn’t that funny.’ That’s the reaction I want.”
Dworkind says his work has no rhyme or reason – the ‘junk’ speaks to him.
“Sometimes I’ll just see something on the curb and want to have it,” Dworkind said.
His art is showcased all over the walls of his NDG home and in devoted rooms as small galleries. Little of his work is seen by the public.
But that has now changed with the latest short film produced by photographer Ezra Soiferman.
“I was blown away and I decided to take out my camera and start making a movie,” Soiferman said.
Titled The Junk On My Roof the film shines a light on Dworkind’s hidden but bright rooftop sculpture garden.
Soiferman says Dworkind is a renaissance man that has many stories already told, none of which have been about his art.
For example, in 1985 he served as a member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War which won a Nobel Peace Prize.
Dworkind is currently the co-founder and medical sirector of Santé Cannabis, the leading education and resource centre for the use of medical cannabis in Quebec.
“When I see another artist who is out there hustling creating things using their voice to express themselves in a unique way I get excited,” Soiferman said.
Soiferman says people are surprised and overjoyed by the five-minute walkthrough film.
Family members of former patients at the Jewish general hospital where Dworkind used to practice have been reaching out, commending the video and the artwork.
Dworkind says he’s humbled by the video and the attention it’s gotten online.
Soiferman says the duo is far from done. They plan to create a second project described as a soup-ed up slide show showcasing art through photo and music focusing on the more than 100 sculptures peppered across Dworkind’s property in the Laurentians.
“That place is like a sculptural Disneyland. It’s wild and whimsical,” Soiferman said.