Jeff's mission as an explorer and artist is identical to his mission as an emergency physician: to help people face immediate danger and chart a path to safety. He encourages people to ask questions we've forgotten how to ask about how the scale of modern life affects conscience and diminishes the very self-protective instincts that help keep us safe against terrorism. He believes we must restore a human scale to our busy lives by learning how to see and adapt to the new frontier of human nature on which we all now live.
Jeff's career as an explorer and artist began on a bleak December day in 1995 at the former Nazi concentration camp Plazow, just outside Cracow, Poland. Acting on a hunch while visiting a memorial near the camp's entrance, he climbed a nearby hill in knee deep snow. Approaching the top, a barbed wire fence came into view surrounding a Nazi-era compound: an abandoned building with prison-bar windows next to a set of ovens, ashes still present. In the dim light and silence, Jeff experienced a strong sense that unspeakable acts of barbarism had occurred here. Guided by intuition, he began photographing what he felt... the same method he uses today.
Since that day, he's been on a quest to understand how civility can unravel and why terrorism remains. Exploring sites across Poland, Belgium, France, Moldova, Ukraine, Transnistria and Romania where millions of innocents have been slaughtered in modern times, he's found a common thread that links mass murder to terrorism: the dehumanizing scale of technology and cities. And there’s not a language in popular culture to talk about it.
Jeff’s believes that if we can talk about how scale cuts us off from reality…the reality of human nature…we’re much less vulnerable to the dark side of modern progress including terrorism. His goal is to inspire belief in a future where people find strength and courage in human decency and see human nature for what it is...permanently imperfect...with the potential for immense goodness and immense evil.
Jeff is a National Geographic photographer whose work has been featured around the world, most recently as the only living artist in "Artist Soldiers", an 18 month exhibition now on display at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (the world's most visited museum). A solo exhibition of his work is now open at the Museum of History and Art in Sainte-Menehould, France.
He is also a TV host & producer, the author of three books and a professional speaker. With his production partner and friend Kirk Wolfinger (Lone Wolf Media), he produced his first documentary, 'Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI' which premiered on the Smithsonian Channel in March 2017.
Jeff graduated near the top of his class at one of America's top ten medical schools, The University of Washington School of Medicine. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Honor Medical Society and is a Fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians. For over 25 years, Jeff has taught trauma care as an instructor in the Advanced Trauma Life Support program administered by the American College of Surgeons.
Jeff is a proud member of The Photo Society, an invitation only group of about 170 National Geographic Photographers.
by Jeff Gusky (Author, Photographer), Judith Miller (Introduction), Hardcover, 180 pages, Overlook-Duckworth (New York, London), October 2003, ISBN: 1585673161. A December 17th, 2003 Roger Rosenblatt essay on the book aired on PBS' The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.
Published in September, 2008 by Yale University Press (New Haven). Bordertown is the story of a once powerful yet now impoverished locale on the Texas-Mexico border which has been a full participant in American life since it became American soil in 1848. It’s a story of power, patriotism and self-determination by early Mexican-Americans. The book was the recipient of the Popular Culture/American Culture Association’s Ray and Pat Browne Award for the Best Reference/Primary Source Work in Popular and American Culture in 2008. Co-authored with SMU Professor Ben Johnson. ISBN: 0300139284.
Published in 1983, this orientation manual for third-year medical students sold 16,000 copies in two printings and was widely distributed throughout the US and Canada. ISBN: 0910015007.
Hidden beneath the beautiful French countryside lie hundreds of underground rock quarries which were already centuries old before WWI began. Armies on both sides rapidly converted these vast spaces into modern underground cities with electric power, lights, telephones, rail transportation, living quarters, hospitals, food systems, offices, chapels and theaters. One underground city Jeff photographed has over 25 miles of contiguous passageways and resembles a subway station with high ceilings. Some underground cities have street signs still posted on the walls which helped soldiers from getting lost. Jeff is nearly 6’4” tall and can walk about freely in most of these places without hitting his head.
Tens of thousands of soldiers lived underground at any given time. A single underground system beneath Arras, France housed 24,000 British Commonwealth soldiers at its peak. It was outfitted with a 700 bed hospital.
WWI was the first modern mass destruction. The weapons were so powerful that there was no place on the earth’s surface which was safe from sudden death. But underground there was safety. The powerful weapons could not wreak havoc beneath the earth’s surface.
The safety of the underground allowed soldiers to feel human. And here, they reconstituted a human world. When the surface of the earth became an apocalypse where human life was devoured by machines…machines whose power exceeded human comprehension… beneath the surface soldiers expressed their hopes, fears and prayers on stone by carving museum-quality art and inscriptions now cloaked in total darkness. They wrote their names, addresses and notes to loved ones as messages to the future, not knowing if anyone would ever see them.
Now we can see them, touch them and feel the human emotions of modern young men who were alive a century ago. Time has stood still. The passage of one hundred years feels like a single day.
|The New York Times||The Hidden Cities of World War I|
|BBC News||The hidden art of war underground|
|National Geographic||The Hidden World of the Great War|
|NPR “Here and Now”||ER Physician Documents ‘Lost Underground’ Of WWI|
|Dallas Morning News||Photographer documents forgotten WWI scenes from underground|
|PDN Online||The Hidden World Beneath World War I Battlefields|
|Canadian Broadcasting System||WWI Artifacts|
|ABC News / Yahoo||Beneath the trenches: The secret world of the Great War revealed|