About monica

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no woman is an island

Late last week I receive a few emails from Jack who is in Phoenix, from Sacramento, for a business trip. I came through the airport and fell in love with your art and especially “Wandering Nerve…” I want it to live with me. Is it spoken for?

I like that he wants my study ↑ of the wandering nerve, aka vagus nerve, aka pneumogastric nerve … to live with him.

Another email:
Do you want to sell it? Do you make prints? I’m here for 3 days.

The work is an original. No prints. Yes, it’s available. I forward more info.

Marvelous! He notes he’s checked in with his wife too. All good.

He fowards:
The microbiome is growing in importance to me individually and the Vagus Nerve is a major player in my current health. I’m so grateful to see it combined in an artistic way too as art has been a similar factor in my life.

This weekend we speak. I learn a little about Jack…

At one point in life he considers becoming a psychologist and/or a minister. He talks about his interest in Eastern religions, community development and personal growth. We talk about philosophies he’s studied. I’m intrigued to know he once lived in an Ashram in South India.

Jack recounts a time, years ago, when he first came across images of Van Gogh. He describes his emotions and the physical sensations as he looked at the work. The experience seeds his interest in art and it continues to grow … which is why we connect today. And he thought he was coming to Phoenix for a business trip!

I listen as he tells me about his physical health, early ailments, and then later more serious issues including inflammation and severe pain. The latter leads Jack to research (a Stanford Lab) among several things, the microbiome and the vagus nerve, and eventually he makes the necessary life-style changes. In particular he talks about food, old cravings as well as a new way of eating that he’s designed for himself. He no longer deals with pain and he notes the breath, now easy and open. I ask questions, he answers with directness and ends with…the vagus nerve…it directs you!

I like his description of the vagus nerve… like a runway...he says. His quiet excitement is clear … I love the wandering nerve!

 We talk a little about the body directing the brain, and the brain directing the body.  It’s 2-way communication, I say. He agrees.

Jack’s life is full. He has plans with his family, which include a return trip to India and to write a book…

Art on a Cellular Level continues to June of 2020 at Sky Harbor airport.

Before our conversation comes to an end, Jack mentions how much he enjoys walking through Sky Harbor. It’s one of the nicest airports I’ve been in…and I’ve been in many.  He especially appreciated the art spaces.

I’m pleased you took the time to experience the artwork. I’m especially glad you’re well and in good spirit. Thank you Jack, for connecting and sharing some of your extraordinary life with me. I am happy the Wandering Nerve will live with you!


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

©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

art making, sound making

What might a painting sound like? What might sounds look like?

The exhibition i hear what you’re seeing, curated by Laura Haleshighlights seven paintings and drawings by Arizona artists, imaginatively narrated in sound by students from Arizona State University’s School of Music and ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

Featured Visual Artists:
Laura Spalding Best, Bill Dambrova, Cam DeCaussin, Lara Plecas, Ellen Wagner and Monica Aissa Martinez.

Featured Sound Artists:
Devin Arne, Shomit Barua, Laura Brackney, Andrew Robinson, Jacob Miller Smith and Gina Xu.

Here are some detail shots. You’ll have to show up to experience the rest of it.
#art #sound #words #mixedmedia

Laura Best, Refracted Oasis

Bill Dambrova, She asked me my name and I gave her my social security number; that’s how they got my spleen

Cam DeCaussin, Or so I’m told but how would you fake it

Lara Plecas, Petite Alliance

Ellen Wagener, Cloud Bank

Monica Aissa Martinez, Lymphatics (front view)*

*my work will also include a poem titled Signal by Kelly Nelson

 

Who:     Center Space
What:    i hear what you’re seeing
Where:  Inside of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
7380 E 2nd St, Scottsdale, 85251 View Map
When:   Opening: Friday, January 17, 6:00–8:00 pm.
runs to April 26, 2020

Join us for the opening! Free and open to the public.


Center Space is a newly imagined community space for visitors to learn about the arts by doing. Each fall and spring exhibition will feature hands-on activities or interactive displays. It is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and during evening performances.

giving and receiving (the art of cooperation and conflict)

Organizing notes and/or…
What I learn (try to figure out and detail) along the way in my study about obesity and the microbiome/gut bacteria …

Newborns, breast milk and HMO’s…

Galactose (molecule) is one of the sugars (a building block for HMO) found in breast milk.

Oligosaccharide from the Greek, oligos, a few, and sácchar, sugar.
Human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) are sugar molecules found only in human breast milk. HMO’s, while indigestible in a newborn, encourage the growth of health promoting bifidobacteria. Think: fertilizer designed for fitness enhancing microbes.

Stuff I find particularly interesting…
Breast feeding promotes a diversity in the microbiome that may set up an individual for protection against future obesity (amongst other things).
Breast milk varies over the period of lactation and the growth of bacteria varies in different populations.

And then there are the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) …

Butyrate (a most essential SCFA necessary for homeostasis)

SCFA are another product of microbial (friendly gut bacteria) fermentation (of indigestible dietary fibers). This source energy for the cells lining the colon kill pathogens and protects against dysbiosis.

Included in my drawing are the 3 most common examples of SCFA’s which are butyrate↑, propionate↓ and acetate↓↓.

(Yes…fun to draw out  and paint all the ball and stick models.)

Propionate (Greek protos, first and pion, fat) produces glucose in the liver.

 

Acetate (taken up by astrocytes/glial metabolism)

Takeaways…
The right food early in life trains the immune system via the microbiome.
Changes in diet (those SCFA) drive changes in gut microbes. Fiber rich foods (plant based) allow host and microbes to have mutualistic relationship (cooperation).
Microbes harm and/or help us (the host).
Junk food allows for conflict (harm).

…and then there’s hormones…

Insulin (Ribbon diagram) allows the body to use glucose for energy or store for future use.

Ghrelin (ribbon diagram) in the stomach – stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage.

Questions…
Does some food fuel pathogens and promote their growth?
Does some food inhibit or kill pathogens?
Do pathogens play a role in obesity?

#PortraitOfVeronica #GottaHaveArt #ThisStuffIsFrickinComplicated

ps. The title of the post came after a Yoga class the day after the holiday.


©2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

a city, modified: 20 years of modified arts

A City, Modified, is a cross between historical exhibition and invitational. The show surveys Modified Arts’ origin in 1999 to the present day and explores the galleries’ history as a music venue and arts space in downtown Phoenix through photographs and historical memorabilia. It is also an invitation to a selection of artists that have had an impact on the space and the arts community in Phoenix over the last two decades.

Participating Artists Include:
Annie Lopez
Brent Bond
Casebeer
Christine Cassano
David Dauncey
Daniel Funkhouser
James Angel
Jerry Jacobson
Douglas Miles
John Randall Nelson
Laura Spalding Best
Malena Barnhart
Monica Aissa Martinez
Rembrandt Quiballo
Sergio Aguirre

Who: Modified Arts
What: A City, Modified
When: November 15 – December 14th
Opening Reception: Third Friday, November 15th, 2019 6pm-9pm
Closing Reception: First Friday, December 6th, 2019 6pm-9pm
Where: Downtown Phoenix, Roosevelt Row

m/a
407 E Roosevelt, Phoenix AZ 85004
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9a-5p, Saturday 12-4p
or by appointment at info@modifiedarts.org
more → www.modifiedarts.org
Facebook invite

Congratulation Modified!


Here are 2 of my memories (in photo)…

2010 / Converging Trajectories, Crossing Borders to Build Bridges

2011 / What Goes On and What Takes Place

 

speaking of diversity…

I’m still in the GI tract, looking at the microbiome as it relates to obesity.

Energetically, I’m in the solar plexus, the space below the rib-cage and behind the naval. This area governs digestion and metabolism. (Note: I have a very different picture of this nowadays.) Symbolically, it is the center holding our willpower and self-esteem. One of my Yoga teachers refers to it as the city of jewels.

Out of balance, the area can carry either excess energy or an energy deficiency. A balanced solar plexus can wake up ones sense of personal power.

The area holds (for you) a bright yellow light. #Fire

I think about optimal well-being which includes the whole person … physical, mental and social well-being (body, spirit and mind).

Here are a few personal details about my cousin …

Veronica has 3 children. They hold space in the composition ↑ as sperm meets egg (3x). Her children are adults (she’s a grandmother).

The day I photograph her, I note long fingernails and dark purple nail-polish. This last week I give the study a manicure and pedicure.

Veronica has numerous tattoos. Three flowers ( 2 blue and 1 🌸) are added to the top, left foot (our right, her left).  FYI…the immune system keeps those tats in place!

Puncture the skin and immune cells kick in. Macrophages (remember the big eater) work to gobble up invaders, in this case, the ink particles. Yes, they hold the color in place! Should the dermal macrophages be destroyed, new ones step in and continue holding that ink. The purple floating shapes ↑ to either side of the flowers – represent this (cool) hand-over system.

For years I’d not seen the small pastel of Veronica as an infant. It was on the wall during our photo shoot. I include a portrait of the portrait ↑ in the drawing as I consider a newborn’s microbiota.

Do you know breast fed babies have a more diverse microbiome while formula fed babies have a less diverse microbiome? Human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) is particularly interesting. The energy rich substrate, individual to each mother, varies throughout the period of lactation. Infants can’t absorb HMO… but microbes can.

I don’t clearly understand until now, how a high-diversity of microbes might lead to better health conditions for an individual. I mostly focus on who we are feeding – the good microbes and/or the bad microbes. And while this does play into things, so does supporting a well diverse population of microbes. With diversity, perhaps no one microbe can cause a problem (reduction in pathogenic infection).

And speaking of diversity…

Each time I’ve spoken to Veronica, she brings up the word diversity. She’s indicates in one way or another, the importance of inclusion and the recognition of a variety of individuals in terms of personal and work environments, organizations…etc. There is so much more to this idea, she says, so much more….

Veronica will be finishing up school very soon and probably a new career adventure to follow soon after.

I’ve completed 11 life-size humans – diverse in so many ways. When I am done with this one – it will be #12!Thanks for trusting me to bring your uniqueness into the mix Veronica.


Some thoughts…
This work in particular is valuable to me because right now I look at obesity (and the microbiome) through the lens of Evolution Medicine. I am particularly drawn to the idea of adaptation and how the concept applies to health and wellness.  Though always aware, I am even more clear on how everything we do has a cost and/or trade-off.  I’m more inclined to consider how this applies specifically to the care of the human body and the individual.

My understanding of the microbiome feels like I’m working a complicated puzzle. Things come together one piece at a time. At this point, I almost feel like I could go back to each drawing and add a microbial element.

What the body holds is incredible…I understand  more and more one human study at a time.

#GottaHaveArt


©2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

bugs, seashells, skulls

This semester the majority of the students use a variety of Micro-pens. Note the line work in this assignment, some indicates structure while some indicates texture.

The subject matter is a natural and complex form. Students used to draw only shells. A few years ago I brought in bugs. This semester, thanks to the PC biology department, we have small animal skulls. The composition is to include 2-3 objects and students must balance out positive space with negative space.

While I would like each student to include 1 of each (bug, shell and skull) in their composition, I let them pick and choose. I’m not surprised some students don’t like the bugs. I’m very surprised others don’t care for the skulls. And I understand why most of them love the variety in the seashells.

Santan focuses on a star fish.

Drawing students learn the skill of observation. Using a magnifying lens, they look closely at the form and surface of their complex object. Marker (no eraser) forces them to work slow and careful. They learn to focus. They learn patience, commitment and discipline. During critique we talk about how these traits show up in the work.

The assignment goes well. Here are a few of the studies.

Santana’s What Am I Looking at?

Angel, She Sells

Luis’s Land and Sea

Seb’s Sirens Song

Leo’s Hopper Goes to the Beach

Grace’s SeaShells

Pedro’s Dinner Time

Ilse’s Monsters

Aine’s She Sells Sea Shells

Eman’s Food Chain

Luka’s Linear Evolution

Luka’s Speleothems

Fernando’s Skulls Overboard

Early in the semester, students tell me about Inktober. In general, I think the idea behind this is one ink drawing a day throughout the month of October. This study takes at least 4 days for the majority of the class. But it’s still a fine drawing for the month!  #inktober2019


The post includes only a few of the drawings. You can see all of the work on Thursday, November 7th, when Phoenix College (main campus) celebrates National STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) day.  Free and open to the public. You’re invited!
more

pretty close to a PSA …

2 things….
Last week I had a very quick (and very spontaneous) introduction to molecules. (Thanks Joseph!)  I returned to the studio loving the ball-and-stick sculpture-like forms, knowing  they’d show up in the current study (Portrait of Veronica).

and…
This week gut microbes ↓ enter the picture plane. And maybe…so does microbial imbalance aka dysbiosis.

Portrait of Veronica (lower edge of the life-size study)

Understanding Omeprazole is an antacid, I was never at ease hearing Veronica would be on it for the rest of her life.

Omeprazole is what is known as a Proton Pump Inhibitor. PPI’s are among the most widely used (prescription and over-the-counter) medications. They are linked with obesity (among other things). And long term use can be harmful.

I always planned to include something in the composition about antacids. I just had to find the right way to do it.

Enter: Molecules! ↓ Here is omeprazole. I like detailing the form and purposely choose sweet colors  (like candy which many antacids tend to resemble).

FYI, my source for information on antacids is Joe Alcock. If he’s involved, always know the microbiome is involved. He refers to gastric acid juice as the gatekeeper to the microbiome.

Consider stomach acid kills microbes that enter the gut along with food. When gastric acid output is blocked, say…by an antacid, understand the stability (balance) of microbiota is also altered. It appears good bacteria might be reduced while harmful (and opportunistic) bacteria remains.  (Gastric acid also supports absorption of calcium and B12.)

It’s complicated…
#SmallIntestinalBacterialOvergrowth #Dysbiosis #Inflammation #WeightGain

I take a minute to email Joe, who notes there are a few conditions for which life long omeprazole makes sense. For everyone else, he says, PPIs should be a very short term drug.  Read his post and find out why → Killer antacids

You’ll be seeing more molecules in my study…


©2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ