Award-Winning Photographer, Local Cancer Survivor’s Art on Display at James Art Gallery

Jan Bell

Ohio-based photographer Jan Bell has always had an adventurous spirit since childhood, and that fascination with exploring the beauty of the natural world stayed with him throughout adulthood. In the past decade, Jan has become recognized for what art reviewers call “meticulously crafted images of natural subjects.”

“I like to observe a world that is often overlooked due to our hurried lives, and bring that to people through my photography,” he says.

March 29 - May 9, 2019, visitors to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) can view his award-winning photographs at The James Art Gallery. The exhibit is part of an ongoing, hospital-based program aimed at healing through the arts that showcases artists with Ohio connections.

This exhibit is especially meaningful to Jan because he has another connection to the OSUCCC – James: he is a multiple myeloma survivor and current patient.

In the fall of 2017, extreme back pain sent Jan to several doctors before he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and subsequently admitted to the OSUCCC – James to begin chemotherapy.

Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer that occurs in a specific type of type of white blood cell called plasma. Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out healthy blood cells and limiting the body’s ability to fight infections.

Jan spent 11 days receiving in-patient chemotherapy, which ultimately put him into remission. Now he receives maintenance chemotherapy to keep his cancer from advancing and a drug to boost his immune function.

Unfortunately, the disease left him with considerable bone and back pain. He also lost five inches in height due to vertebra compression. Jan has not let this stop him from pursuing his passion for photography. He was able to take three photography treks this past fall. Although it was difficult, he says it allowed him to reconnect with the land and, most importantly, to return to the joy of photography – something he sorely missed while undergoing treatment. His next photography adventure? Yosemite National Park in 2020.

“There is no question that my life has changed, but I am still able to be active and generally do some of the things I want to do. I just do them differently,” says Jan. He can often be found bird watching, cooking, reading and – of course – hiking with his camera in tow.

To learn more about Jan’s artwork, visit