no woman is an island

It’s October, when I open this email from Ms. Porter:

I am the art director for the Hastings Center Report, the leading academic journal in the field of bioethics. Our journal uses fine artwork to illustrate important articles about ethics in the fields of medicine and biotechnology.

Her introduction is followed by a long list of the wonderful contemporary artists whose work has appeared in the journal.

I am writing to request permission to reproduce your collage Fly (detail), as is shown on the “Today I Am a Fly” page of your website. I would like to use the work on the cover of a special report “Gene Editing in the Wild: Shaping Decisions through Broad Public Deliberation,” which will accompany the November-December 2021 issue of the Hastings Center Report.

This report examines the ethical challenges of so-called “gene drives.” These are scientific interventions that would alter the biology of certain pests, such as mosquitoes and other insects, to drastically reduce their populations in areas where they are harmful to people and the food supply. Are such human interventions ethical, and how much say should the people in these areas have about whether they should take place? What is the best way to accurately inform the public about the positive and negative effects of such interventions?

Ms. Porter informs me, distribution is worldwide.#TodayIAmAFLYWorldwide

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A sincere thank you to the Hastings Center, for including my work on the cover of this fine publication.

I spend time with the journal and I pull this quote from an essay titled Giving Voice to the Voiceless in Environmental Gene Editing, on page S66.

If the river could talk, it would say to us, “Let me flow; let me splash; let me do what I should do. This is my blood; this is flowing through my veins. I’m part of an entire environment, and I have a part to play in that.”
JoAnn Cook, former Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council member1

To read the special report →  Wiley Online Library

If you want to know more about the organization or order of a hard copy of this or other Hastings Center Report specials reports → The Hastings Center.


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

a practice of art-making…with the medical students

Cynthia Standley, Director of Art in Medicine, reaches out to see if I am interested in facilitating another Art and Anatomy Workshop for first-year students at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine.

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I am. Yes!


Day 1: Thursday
I arrive to a classroom that includes a variety of art supplies (traditional and non-traditional) as well as a selection of medical models available for reference. Medical students enter the classroom and I can feel their excitement.

I introduce myself and speak about the general purpose of the workshop. Many students are here to make an artwork for their Ceremony of Appreciation, in honor of their willed body donors. Others are here only because they want to make art. Everyone is welcome.

Supplies have been chosen and almost immediately, I see some students begin to put something down on drawing paper. They’ve arrived, eager and prepared.

We have a thoughtful, creative and fun-filled afternoon. Below, I share process shots as well as completed artworks.

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There’s a little fashion mixing it up with the optic chiasm.

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The bronchial tree.

I move from student to student, discussing each composition, including materials, form and content. I get a good sense of their ideas as well as their observation skills. I also appreciate and enjoy their imagination. 

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Day 1 comes to an end with a photo of a few of the participants and their art.

Day2: Friday
On this second day, a larger group arrives. I’m please to see some students from the day before.

The workshop begins with introductions, followed by another afternoon of art-making.

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In each eye is a galaxy…

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I see a labyrinth…

 

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Happy Digestive System

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Carefully representing areas of the brain.

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Wonderful work is completed!

I hope each of you had fun and learned something that you didn’t know before.

Here is what I learned:
Tea bags (of all shapes) can be used as a collage element! #VeryCool
I now know, the smallest bone in the body is called the stapes. It was pointed out to me by a student and discussed with the group at the table. #HelpingMeToRemember
I better understand how students learn from their body donor. I got a sense of the subtle way in which human connection is formed. #Honor

Thanks to everyone who participated. Thank you Cindi, for inviting me back.
My best to each of you.
#Appreciation #Creativity #Observation #Fun #ArtAndMedicine


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

no woman is an island

It’s early December when I receive this email from Julie:
By any chance do you have any small works of just the brain? My sister is looking for a present for her son (my nephew) who is a neuro surgeon and I wanted to tell her about your work. If you had a small drawing of a brain, send me an image and the price and I’ll forward it on to her. Thanks!  Happy holidays! -Julie

You could guess things played out well. As I prepare to write, I ask Julie for story.

The way it came down, Julie explains, was that my sister asked in passing, Do you know by any chance an artist who paints or draws images of the brain? We want to give our son (Steven) and his wife Mary (also a surgeon) a gift that would be near to his practice (a neurosurgeon). 

Julie’s reply: Boy do I have an artist for you, and I just so happen to be organizing a solo exhibition of her work at TMA! Her work is wonderful and I think I saw a few brain images when I visited there recently. 

Julie Sasse is Chief Curator at Tucson Museum of Art. She’d made a studio visit in early November. We were going over the artwork for my upcoming September exhibition, in the museum’s → Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art.  Wendy Carr, is Julie’s sister.

Julie continues, I really like my nephew (and his wife!). He and I went on a three-week trip to Chile the summer before he entered med school so we have a special bond—went to Easter Island as well. What a great trip that was. He is so smart and I love to hear about the lives he has saved. 

Friday, I send 4 images, along with the information she’s requested. Monday, Julie tells me to hold one particular study. Tuesday I speak with Wendy.

I enjoy hearing about her son, Dr. Steven Carr, MD., an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Wendy notes Steven’s creative side, He enjoys working with his hands, wood in particular. He made a toy box and a rocking horse for his son as well as a train set and a trolley car.

I tell her about an exhibition of my work at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. I recall how I especially appreciated the medical students and faculty talk about my work and point out the details. I didn’t say much, mostly I listened (and learned!).

Here ↓ is the small brain study Julie asked me to hold. I paid extra attention to details with this image. And I was using mylar for the first time. I discovered both graphite and casein paint love a mylar surface! It’s a favorite material and I continue to use it.

 Sagittal View of the Brain
Casein, Graphite Ink on Mylar
10×13″

The brain and its cells have become the focal point of many of my works since my father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve had time and opportunity to learn about the brain, including visiting the brain bank, in Sun City, AZ.

This artwork showed with phICA, in a container space in downtown Phoenix as well as the University of Arizona Medical School, also in downtown Phoenix.

Now it’s yours, Steven and Mary! This gift of art is in recognition of becoming a Board Certified Neurosurgeon, Steven. Congratulations to you.

Wendy and David, thank you so much. I’d like to extend a personal invitation to all of you. Should you be in Tucson, come and join us for the opening of my solo exhibition, on September 1st! Amongst other things, I plan to have a wall of brain anatomy, including microanatomy study, on display.
#UrBeautifulBrain

Thanks again, Julie!


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ



the all that is

I call this post The All That Is, but I could call it We Are Not Separate. Or maybe, I could call it What is Microchimerism? #Art #Philosophy #Science


The holiday puts a pause on my studio work.  Away, visiting family for a week, I catch an NPR segment* on fetal cells and placentas. It begins with two people (or three or maybe four) sharing one body (the maternal body).

I recall learning about microchimerism**, which is the presence of cells from one individual in another genetically distinct individual. While there are different ways to consider the phenomenon,  pregnancy might be the main cause of natural microchimerism.

The NPR episode paints a distinct picture for me. Think (like a fetus): You have mom’s cells in you (just as your cells are in hers) and if you have an older brother and/or sister, mom’s likely to have passed their cells on to you, too. And what about grandma and great grandma? Does mom also carry their cells? Consequently, do you?  You, me and we…might in fact be…the All That Is! 

Prior to listening to this show, I’d already decided to indicate generational presence in Portrait of Vanya, though I had not settled on exactly how I would do this. 

The first day back in the studio, I work into the entire ground of the painting, a large and colorfully detailed placenta. I now imagine placenta holding a family tree, of sorts. Visually speaking, the chorionic villi ↓ of the placenta do have a tree-like quality.

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Placenta, Latin for cake, related to Greek plakous, a flat cake. My glossary of medical meanings also informs me it serves as communication between fetus and mother, by way of umbilical cord.
(I’ll hope to write a future post about the placenta that might include placenta encapsulation.) 

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Something else I come across, while visiting mom over the holidays. She has a large, almost as big as her hand, butterfly she’d found and was saving. It is a stunning Swallowtail butterfly.

The butterfly, symbol of change and transformation, feels appropriate for a newborn who arrived weeks early. And it so happens, the meaning of the name Vanya is butterfly! 

Right into the painting, it goes…

When I share this detail of the study, Jeorgina, Vanya’s mom, sends this photo.

Unaware that Vanya means butterfly, she’s excited to explain she got the tattoo when she found out she was pregnant. #iWhoa! #Change!

During this holiday break, I also catch a Gloria Steinem interview where she briefly talks about symbols. For Steinem, the circle connects to the circle of life, while the triangle represents rank. I associate the triangle to stability. Thinking about it as rank, I rework the eyeball, directing gaze up ↑ and think summum bonum, the highest good.

I add and subtract many elements ↑ to this painting including mammary glands and endocrine system, fetal stem cells (which may contribute to maternal health and wound healing), microbes…etc.

Somewhere, this casein and egg tempera painting took a turn of its own. I’ll sit with it a little longer to know if it is complete. #TheAllThatIs

Portrait of Vanya may be the final work for an upcoming solo at Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. The exhibit, Nothing In Stasis, will open the first week of April and run to August.
More later…

→ * NPR Fetal Cells May Protect Mom from Disease Long After The Baby’s Born
→ ** Microchimeric mombie: Amy Boddy


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ