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spike protein / chief rank

While I want only to draw and paint, I will share a few things (that I sort of understand) about the spike protein.

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The most obvious identifying feature, and for me it’s the pull to draw the coronavirus again (and again), is the spike protein (S protein). By now everyone is familiar with this proteinscape (yes, I made the word up) along the outer edge of the virus which forms the identifying crown that it is named after.

Visually, I appreciate layout, structure and textural qualities.

I purchase new materials and enjoy the freedom archival marking pens bring me (I do not let go of paint and brush). The pens allow for a tighter and narrower clean line that holds its fluidity.

I look up the word protein to find it comes from the Greek proteios defined as chief rank or first place. Interesting, though I can’t say this helps me get any clearer on S proteins. (…or perhaps it does…)

There are many proteins involved in the coronavirus assembly, including M protein (membrane protein) and E protein (envelope protein).

I understand S proteins are glycoproteins meaning they contain a carbohydrate (a slippery sugar molecule) which helps disguise the virus so as not to be detected by host cells.
#penetrating #fusing

Without the S protein, viruses like the (novel) SARS-CoV-2 would not be able to interact with the cells of its potential host and cause infection. It also neutralizes antibodies after infection. Consequently, the S protein was/is ideal target for vaccine and antiviral research.
→ #ChiefRank

Are some proteins programmed to be so sneaky? #SurvivalOfTheMostAdaptable

This subject is more complicated than I can say…so it’s wise for me to return to the studio. I’m keeping this simple. (Cuz I don’t know a virologists and if I did I wouldn’t interrupt them right now cuz they’re probably very busy.)

Spike protein, I wish I’d never heard of you. Go away.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

third eye / pituitary gland

Curious of the mystical right now, I go in search of the Third Eye.

I start at the forehead, between the eyebrows, draw back and make my way to…the optic chiasm (but of course!). Here, I locate the pituitary gland (master gland of the endocrine system), traditionally associated with the third eye (Ajna Chakra). I also find the hypothalamus.

There is some kind of vital activity compacted into this central area of the brain!
#guardians of health #homeostasis
#nervoussystem #endocrinesystem

The pituitary gland is lower form. Hypothalamus is upper forms.
I love the whole shape.

Until now, I don’t know the pituitary gland is also called hypophysis.

Hypophysis: from the Greek, hypo means below or under, and relates to its position. Physis, means growth and/or in Latin, connects to natura or nature.. The gland secretes hormones that affect growth, blood pressure, protein synthesis and digestion. The hypophysis works in tandem with the hypothalamus, Greek, hypo, below [the thalamus] and thalamus, Latin for inner chamber (the latter is excellent description of the space). The hypothalamus controls temperature, food intake (appetite, weight control, digestive juices), thirst and water intake, sleep and wake cycles, child birth, blood pressure and heart rate, emotional behavior and memory.
#hormones #emotions #drives

The light-hearted quality of the small study surprises me (serious stuff goes on in there). #ChildsPose #AUM

Back to the mystical…
The third eye implies perception beyond ordinary sight. People who awaken the center are called seers. It is related to discernment, intuition, telepathy, clairvoyance, imagination and visualization.
#controlcenter #wherecreationoccurs

Do you see connections between the physical and the energetic systems?


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

homage to the pigeons at los olivos

Hola Palomitas! I see you regularly. Do you recognize my face? I’ve thought to paint you for a good while. Time is now. #SpringBreak

I indulge in painting your textured Cadmium Orange legs and feet! I take delight in working the textured, cool and lighter Payne’s Grey, feathered skirt just above them. Your round form, I outline a darker Payne’s Grey.

You store food at the end of your esophagus in something called a crop. You produce crop milk to feed your young. You don’t have teeth so your gizzard helps you grind food. And you have lots of air sacs…ahh…evolution!

I detail a brain to note your intelligence. I’m surprised to learn the surface is smooth. It has no gyri and sulci! Rumor has it you have an internal compass. Is this true? An internal map allows you to make your way back home from far away locations?

I add and detail your (relatively) large heart that has to meet high metabolic demands for flight. No wonder they say you represent a feeling of safety and confidence in challenging situations. Tradition also has it that you arrive with love, kindness and peace. You connect to home and security. I most appreciate learning you are a spirit messenger, carrying messages between the living and dead. I’ll trust to use your service.

Casein, Egg Tempera, Gesso, Gouache, Graphite, Ink, Micaceous Iron Oxide, Pencil color

#pigeonbody and #pigeonspirit

Paloma, Mm collage on Birch Panel, 14″ x 11″

#freedom


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

it rains, it pours…i draw

One year ago,  I couldn’t have imagined where we’d be today…

Deaths in US 532,355
Cases in US 29,269,590
Vaccines administered 109,081,860

Today is the first day of Spring break. It’s not raining, though it is cold outside
and I am in studio drawing.

In the Art Department, at my college, we are teaching Hybrid studio classes. We have downsized the number of students allowed in each class. When we meet on campus and can work outdoors, we do, and everyone is masked.

Reposting March 15, 2020 ↓

Monica Aissa Martinez

Teri, my friend who is an emergency nurse, upon seeing my virus study in social media, writes:
What did you do during the pandemic Monica?
Responding to herself she continues…I sketched it.


Enjoying the first part of Spring Break, I spend a couple of long days outdoors before the rains come. By end of week, I receive word school break is extended another week, to the 20th. News of COVID-19 fill the airwaves.

It rains. It pours. I draw.

Coronavirus: Internal structure. Note Spikes (glycoproteins) and single strand RNA

Fascinated by viruses, I note the coronavirus described as aesthetically pleasing. I agree.

In the studio the latter part of the week, I draw while listening to science podcasts, in general, on the subject of viruses, in particular on COVID-19. I learn about amplifier hosts and reservoir hosts. I learn words like retrovirus and zoonosis.

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus…

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no woman is an island

Portrait of Täis

It’s January when Alex contacts me:  I was wondering if you’d be interested and if you have the time to talk about a small painting for Taïs? Her birthday is coming up in March. I want to gift her something really unique that she has a relation to.

Vienna and Croatia. #Map

He tells me about Täis’s work in behavioral health and he shares a few of her interests. I also learn about Alex and how he experiences her and their family.

He notes:

Helping children and teenagers overcome depression and anxiety.
Her role is to lead families through the process of dealing with insurance, and admitting their child to the several treatment centers in different states. Often the families are under much emotional pressure and the children have been going through very hard times, and she is great at helping.
Has undergone a very powerful professional growth in the last two years.
Developing into being a good team leader, integrator, and is valued by her team members.

He continues..

Very organized and conscientious.
Always striving to do the right thing.
Bonds with her families through her personality, honesty, and openness.
Driven by, and is great at setting up systems and processes for herself and for others.

And her interests:

The science of the human brain. (Alex, You’ve come to the right person!)
(Inter)Connection of neurotransmitters/hormones and moods
Gestalt psychotherapy.
Listening to podcasts and audio books about personal and professional development, psychology, therapy.

Alex continues, Before she started working and while we were still in Vienna, the best description of her was that of a “social butterfly”. She had many good friends and was always there for everyone.
The “being there” part of her personality has not changed, but she has gone through many personal and professional changes – becoming a wonderful and emotionally involved mom, establishing herself as a professional in her field and being really successful at it in a short time, and managing the two big parts of her life very effectively. 

Alex, would you be interested in a brain study of Taïs? I explain details, size and materials. He likes the idea!

And more about Tais…

…Great and emphatic listener
Clear communicator
Positive nature, Optimistic, Outgoing
Patient
Organized…

Wonderful mom, very loving, family oriented, and emotionally invested
Loves spending time with us, and loves our son Adrian

Alex shares more personal details: Adrian’s name works and sounds the same in all three languages of our family: German, English, and Croatian. It’s also a direct reference to the Adriatic Sea, where I grew up and Taïs and I spent a lot of time together

Collage includes Vienna (where I know Tais lived), Croatia (where Alex lived) and their Adriatic Sea.

One more note…
Her name, Taïs, comes from Greek and means beautiful or goddess. Even more interesting is the fact that Thaïs was a famous Greek companion/concubine who accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns. 

Täis, Happy Birthday to you, smart, conscientious and beautiful woman!

Then and Now

Thank you again, Alex! #thoughtful #luckyman


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

©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

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