matter and memory

“He who installs himself in becoming sees in duration the very life of things, the fundamental reality.”


I begin this study of my father in 2015. The work first exhibits in 2017, at the University of Arizona, School of Medicine, in downtown Phoenix. And it shows again in the summer of 2018, for an art exhibition/summer artist residency, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

This week I find myself adding 3 new details to the composition. Next time it shows, it will be a little different. #NothingInStasis

When I start this work, dad is experiencing changes in his health. He takes a fall and because he describes how he tucks and rolls, I don’t worry too much. (Apparently he learned to tuck and roll while playing high-school football. I had no idea dad played football!)

Another fall causes my father to stop his daily swimming practice. Something feels different after this one. (In my childhood, dad was a summer lifeguard. He enjoyed swimming for as long as I can remember. My siblings and I still share memories of our summers at the pool.) Dad never returns to swimming.

Today, I better understand how changes in one’s health can signal changes in one’s brain. As covered in previous posts, dad is eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Detail of some organs of balance in the composition.

Considering my father didn’t care to be photographed, he was open and easy with all the prep work necessary for this artwork. Frankly, he was much more comfortable than I, with the whole process. I remember him smiling for all the shots. If you knew my dad, he didn’t usually smile for photographs (he made faces). I sensed his respect for my work and I suspect he enjoyed being a part of it.

I add a coronavirus to the composition. Dad tested positive though remained asymptomatic until he tested negative.

So…
Dad left the planet last August. The medical examiner determined cause of death as Alzheimer’s Disease. And while there is truth to this, I think the death certificate should also note some complications ↑ due to Covid-19.

This week I found a book my father gifted me, titled Matter and Memory, by Henri Bergson.  Dad, always the avid reader, was a thinker and true educator. He particularly enjoyed talking philosophy. (It’s a complicated read. I have yet to finish it.)

Looking back, I recall the look on dad’s face when he saw the title of my first solo exhibit, in 1998, was élan vital (a phrase coined by Bergson in 1907). He was pleasantly surprised and though I should not have been, I was surprised he knew Bergson’s writing (Of course he did!). We enjoyed conversation that weekend of the opening, breaking down impulse, current, vital force, vital impetus…etc.

One of my last memories includes time with my father last Christmas (pre-pandemic). I bought him a small puzzle of the United States (For a short time in his life, he taught history).

Dad, where is Texas?
He points, Right here.
Put it in its place.
What’s to the west of Texas?
New Mexico! You lived there!
Yes, I did! Where’s New Mexico? He picks up the piece.
Where does it go? He points.
Fit it in dad. 

We move through the puzzle, one state at a time, both of us enjoying the process. When we are done, he’s happy and tired.

And 2 more additions to the study:
During my summer residency (back in 2018), I learn mitochondrial dysfunction appears to be a trigger for AD. I consider adding one. Yesterday, I paint this powerhouse of the cell into the composition.

These days, I’m learning about neurotransmitters. I learn about acetylcholine and cholinergic neurons ↓ and their connection to AD and add what I believe will be the final detail.

…My father left the planet in early August, ten days before my birthday. He lived a full and happy life. He was curious, thoughtful.

Dad, you are one cool guy! #UrBeautifulBrain

Still and curious. Continuing to learn.

#ProcessPhilosophy #NothingInStasis
#Motion #Change #Evolution
#VitalForce #CreativePrinciple


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

medulla oblongata / subtle and physical

The first time I hear anyone say the words medulla oblongata, it’s Lester describing the place where spirit enters the body. Now, all these many years later, I know where the energy center is located.

The medulla oblongata sits at the back of the neck, where the skull meets the spine. I could not have imagined, back in the day, I’d draw and detail such an anatomical study. Here is a cross section of the space / the place where your spirit enters your body.

Recently I hear it called the Mouth of God. #LifeForce #Prana

cross section of medulla oblongata

Subtle
Base of brain
Seat of life
Where soul enters body
Medulla, the marrow
core of all cores
center of all centers
Aum

Cross section of Medulla Oblongata,  Mixed media on paper.

Physical
Medulla, Latin for the marrow
medius,
middle
central substance, core
Oblongata defined as rather long
long stem structure
at the lower part of the brainstem.
Your breath, Your heart, and Your sleeping and waking.

One more note.
The next time you vomit or sneeze, know your medulla oblongata is involved too.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

aaron in profile

Michelle enjoys describing Aaron (Re: Aaronisms), sharing the good and fun, the solid and creative.
I take a highlighter, pulling some details to compose this portrait/brain study.

Manager at SRP / Load research. 
Aaron loves statistics, numbers and spread sheets.

(I think: [Electrical] Power. Structure. Coordinate. Organizing the disorganized.)

Mellow and methodical. Business and economics.
Sarcastic, patient and loving.
Fantastic dad!
Baseball and basketball. Golfer 
and jogger.
(I think: Balanced)

Loves classic rock. Remembers song lyrics, band info and music trivia (like no one else!) He learned to play guitar and base guitar as an adult and was in a garage band.
(Ahhh, music!! Creativity connecting numbers and structure.)

I isolate numbers, music, movement and the electrical…

 

I make connections to detail and color another beautiful brain.

  • Prefrontal cortex – expectation and fulfillment ( in work and in play).
  • Motor Cortex – Tap, tap tap, bring on the dancing and support of athletic nature.
  • Sensory Cortex – Tactile. Feedback. Feel and know those guitar strings (And maybe the band members and audience – but I speculate).
  • Auditory Cortex – Perception and analysis. Processing tone, sound, chords and maybe all those numbers!
  • Visual Cortex  – Look, see, read the music. Observation in general includes physical movement and working a spread sheet.
  • Cerebellum –  E-motion/music/movement.  Activity!

Portrait of Aaron, Mixed media collage on paper

Aaron, I also hear you’re a hard worker who is dedicated to your family.
#BeautifulBrain #GoodMan #Music #Numbers


#NoWomanIsAnIsland
Thank you Michelle! Thank you Aaron!

→ Portrait of Michelle


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

trichuris trichiura

Trichuris comes from the Greek tricho, meaning hair and oura, meaning tail. Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura)common name, whipworm. I gather the name refers to the shape of its hair-like anterior.

My quick note:
Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura), aka, whipworm.
Trichuriasis, aka, whipworm infection aka a neglected tropical disease.

I particularly enjoy drawing the linear, yet sinuous T. trichiura. ↓

The whipworm has a thicker rear end (posterior) and thinner front end (anterior).  Female is larger (35-50mm) than  male (30-45mm).

I’ve introduced you to Dr. María Adelaida Duque, who enjoys her work with the biological pathogen. The focus of my current research is on understanding the interactions between the parasitic nematode Trichuris trichiura and the intestinal epithelia, their host cells. T. trichiura is an animal from the phylum nematoda. Maria reminds me, we can get infected with this parasite when we ingest eggs present in contaminated food or water.

My rendition of whipworms in the intestine.

Two questions direct Maria’s current work:
How does the larvae reach the bottom of the crypt and invade the epithelia?
What are the interactions between larvae and cells promoting this process?

When the larva is liberated, it infects the bottom of the crypts of the intestinal epithelia and creates tunnels inside them: it is a multi-intracellular parasite! One L1 larva (100um) infects about 40-50 cells in one tunnel.

In the tunnels, the larva moults 4 times, growing and shedding their cuticle with each moult, until they become adult worms, either female and male (about 3-5cm), which mate and produce eggs that are liberated in the faeces, thus completing the life cycle.

Unembryonated whipworm eggs

cross section- cecum inflamed with worms

Eggs hatch in the cecum/proximal colon and larvae immediately infect the cells of the epithelium in there.

My questions:
Do they move through any other organs in the body before heading back to the lumen?
How do they make there way and know where to land? What directs them? Is it chemistry? temperature? (I think this might be Maria’s question too.)

Cross section of cecum based on Maria’s photo. I wished I’d worked larger.

About the art: I especially like the active mark-making this cross section ↑ of the cecum allows.

You are looking at contents in the area where the large intestine begin. The center space is called the lumen (Latin for light). It appears like empty space but it is not. Use your imagination…the lumen holds/transports all sort of interesting things. (Is this chyme?)

Close up.Can you see both whipworms and eggs (in the light)?

My notes and stuff that goes on in my head as I paint:
Intra-multicellular parasite (influences black background and palette), you live and reproduce in/and/or outside of host cells. You produce and liberate 5000 eggs per day (yikes!) into the lumen of your host’s gut which eventually exit and drop into a new environment (soil). With support of warmth, moisture and week’s time, your eggs embryonate.
Ingestion of your now developing eggs leads to infection/s as they enter a new gut where a new generation of you burrow in fresh gut lining, molt x4, mature and if allowed, repeat the cycle of the parasites that came before them and you.
(I know this is a long run-on sentenced paragraph. Like I said… it’s the way my brain works when I paint.)

Soil-transmitted helminths (T. trichiura)
uninvited guest
you cause disease (Trichuriasis).

Is there is treatment for this worm infection? Yes, Maria says, but it is not efficient and often we cannot eradicate the infection. That is why we need new drugs and to find a vaccine.

Continued success in your research and public engagement work  → Dr. María Adelaida Duque.


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

muscles coordinate (tree of life)

out on my final run of last year
i spot a newly pruned shrub
eyes and legs, upright and steady
muscles coordinate
nature inspires me to draw a cerebellum
power of fine-movement, precision, timing
balancing eye and hand
muscles coordinate
to create first study of the new year

#LittleBrain #ArborVitae

cerebellum: sagittal cross section

 


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

an anopheles mosquito and the unicellular organism it transfers

Alejandro Marin Mendez is enthusiastic as he introduces himself to me and tells me about his work as a scientist.

Thinking he lives in Spain, he corrects me and explains he was born in Spain and currently lives in France. He mentions other places he’s lived as well as languages he’s learned. This is the life of a scientist, he happily notes.

We discuss Covid-19 restrictions and then go to the topic of Malaria.

He begins, I focus my research on the malaria parasite, which is called Plasmodium and it is unicellular.

There are 5 species of Plasmodium that affect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. knowlesi. It’s a vector-borne disease which means that it’s transmitted by mosquitoes (of the genus Anopheles).

According to the World Health Organization there are over 220 million cases of malaria infections reported in the world (mainly in the Southern hemisphere) and causes a 400,000 death toll per year, most of them being children under 5 years old infected with P. falciparum. Basically, it’s a massive health burden across the globe, especially affecting children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The parasite needs to invade the RBC’s (red blood cells) as part of its life cycle. In the process of invading and egressing in and out of RBCs in a cycle that lasts between 24 and 72 hours, depending on the species, is when affected people develop all the symptoms (fever, anemia, headaches, muscular pain and in severe cases cerebral comma and death). Within the human body it mostly reproduces asexually, while later in the cycle it produces gametocytes that will commence sexual reproduction (2 cells give 1 cell) within the mosquito. I find that bit fascinating, that an unicellular organism has asexual and sexual reproduction across it’s life cycle!

My brain finds it hard to keep up….unicellular, P. falciparum, vector borne, RBC cycles…
I quick-note (aka doodle quickly) with stuff laying on my desk.

female Anopheles mosquito

My take:
An infected (and pregnant) Anopheles mosquito (vector) bites (sucks nutritious blood for maturation of its eggs) a human (host), injecting the malaria parasite (via its saliva glands) into the bloodstream (in the elongated form of a sporozoite).

The sporozoite (infective agent) enters the liver (hiding from the immune system) and multiplies (asexually) within liver cells (polyhedral hepatocytes). Liver cells eventually burst, sending what are now merozoites (who escape) out into the blood stream.

Did I get this right? Correct me if I didn’t.
Some merozoites (rounder form of the parasite) enter (bind to the surface) erythrocyte (aka, blood cell), where cycle continues in further complex stages: Ring stage, Trophozoite stage, Schizont stage (mature sporozoites)…while other merozoites develop into gametocytes.

Whew…there’s more but I’ll leave it for another day…

work in progress

Early in the zoom call, Alejandro referred to the parasite as a serial killer.

The last thing I ask: Do/does the parasite, in its various stages, communicate with each other?  I paraphrase here ↓ (cuz I found it complicated).
He explains, the parasite is basically a single-celled organism. (This doesn’t answer my question.) He says, we can talk philosophically or perhaps spiritually, and perhaps we might consider it communicates. Perhaps. And then he goes into the molecular and hypotheses…

…serial killer…silently creeping…plasmodium falciparum…

mosquito goes dark. work in progress.

Muchas Gracias Alejandro. Me gustó hablar contigo!
_________________

Alejandro Marin Mendez is a scientist and an avid bicyclist. He’s combined the two things he loves into a Public Engagement initiative where he brings cutting edge science to Secondary Schools and the general public, around the world.
For more  →
scicling.org.

#circles #cycles


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

a visually driven post

I wanted the light to be the revelation. It has to do with what we value. I want people to treasure light. – James Turrell


Eye-balls, they’re weird and wonderful, these organs that house vision. I like the form and shape, the simplicity and complexity. And based on many a conversation, I know others enjoy them too.
#thevisual

I didn’t expect to revisit the eye. But I’m looking at the brain and they are one….

Cool fact: Your eyes are the part of your brain that sit outside your skull. Their primary job is to inform you (your brain) through signal, when to wake up and when to sleep.
#sunrisedetectors #sunsetdetectors

At the back of each eye-ball are a layer of various cells. The thin layer ↓ called the retina, is made up of neurons that sense patterns of light carried by photons. This patten travels via the optic nerve, to your brain.
#lightwaves #transduction #electricalsignals #nervousimpulses #neuralsignals

Neural Cells of the Retina

Vision is your ability to detect light patterns.
#electromagneticwaves #nanometers #electromagneticspectrum #wavelengths

Your eye(s) and brain communicate via your optic nerve(s). A conversation between them could go something like this…

Eyes to Brain: I admire the color blue! Do you?
Brain: Yes! Blue light wakes me right up! I also appreciate blue light as it goes darker. And, I enjoy yellow and orange light as it gets brighter too.
Eyes: All of this. Yes!

Basically they’d be talking sunrise and sunset, alertness and sleep. The brain might  continue and clarify how light affects cortisol, heart-rate and hormones.

Everything really starts in the eye. The eye sheds light on the brain which activates all the rest of the cells (every single cell!) in your body.
#circadianclock #circannualclock #entrainable #everysinglecellinyourbody

postscript:  all my posts are visually driven


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ