art in medicine – nothing in stasis

I spend the day with the crew at the University of Arizona’s medical school. I am in downtown Phoenix, at the Health Sciences Education Building, installing Nothing In Stasis, my most recent (years of work actually) drawings and paintings.

Walking in this morning, I see a group of students looking closely at my largest canvas that at the moment leans against a wall. I hear someone call out the name of a muscle. Someone else points out the thyroid.  I smile as I approach them and someone asks,  Are you the artist?  This is so accurate, she says. I hope so, I respond. I identify the figures in the painting and we talk about the content.

In between classes I catch students looking at artwork.  Either I am introduced by someone or I introduce myself. I completely enjoy it.

I shoot a series of photos ↓ while sitting in the corner working out a hanging system. Again, students are between classes. One young woman looks at one drawing and then another. She calls a friend over and says something to her as she points. I decide to walk over and introduce myself (all the while feeling like John Quiñones on What Would You Do).

The one female asks me if the surrounding organs signify something about the people depicted.

Yes! You’re correct!
Are they people you know?
My niece, my father and my mother. 

We discuss the compositions of my parents.  They clearly recognize and appreciate the details.

I don’t know how many students I connect with on this busy afternoon but each conversation brings insight.  Are you a medical doctor? My not so scientific response – No, but maybe in another life I was.

Before the afternoon is over I gather how meaningful the usual art works are  to the students, faculty, and staff. They have rotating exhibitions here. And for some reason this last month there has been no art on their walls. I am, in fact, putting my work up 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I clearly hear and see the art element is missed by most everyone.

I speak with Cynthia Standley,  who among other things organizes the Art in Medicine programming. We discuss the value of art in this particular educational setting. We talk about the connection between art and medicine (science) in terms of skill building: observation, critical thinking and communication. She notes how the skills enhance patient care. I note these are the very same skills I teach my drawing students.

I learn they have a partnership with the Phoenix Arts Museum as does our Department of Art at Phoenix College.

At the end of a long day, I sit and watch the natural light flood the now quiet area.

On a side note: When I agree to have a solo at the medical school, I am unaware they have a room with glass walls ↑ and they don’t know I have 2-sided translucent drawings. A medical school with glass walls…perfect!

My studio is empty. I have 60-plus drawings and paintings hanging in the Health Sciences Education Building at the Phoenix Bio-Medical Campus located a few blocks South of the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

The exhibition titled Nothing In Stasis will be showing to April of 2018. The area is open to the public and allows for visitors. An artist reception is in the planning for February’s First Friday. More info to come.


Health Sciences Education Building
Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC)
435 N. 5th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2230
Map (PDF)
Parking Information

i am jaguar

I am Jaguar, Panthera onca. Consider me the largest cat of the Americas.

My species once thrived as far north as California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In the last decade you can find a few of us in the mountains of southern Arizona.

I wonder (I wander) if, like my ancestors, I can make a life here? The terrain of the Sonoran Desert sustains me. I travel back and forth, north and south, exploring the remote area. Can I return?

Can it work? Yes, it can. Will it work? That’s another question.

You want to know why I roar? I have, like you, a hyoid bone ↑ (highlighted in blue).  I vibrate my larynx causing the twig-like hyoid bones to resonate. Cats purr, I roar.

My large powerful jaw, canines, and retracting claws allow me to get through thick reptilian skin and turtle shells. I eat birds, mammals and fish too. The Sonoran desert provides plenty of javelina, a favorite.

Upper claws – tendons and muscles relaxed. Lower claws – tendons and muscles tightened.

Because my jaws and cheeks are larger, they say my brain is smaller.
I am intelligent.

I am a carnivore, not a popular thing to be, I understand. I need meat to sustain a lean body and lean muscle.

I run long distance, though I admit I am not fast. I am powerful. I pounce prey, give a direct bite to the neck or the back of the skull. I’m quick, I suffocate. Remember, I have  powerful jaw and canines.

Communication channels are visual, acoustic and chemical.
Perception channels are visual, tactile, acoustic and chemical

I am top predator. Though more important, I am a keystone species. I take on the critical role of maintaining structure and balance an eco system.

My status is NT, near threatened.  Humans are my primary predator.  They see me as a threat to livestock. They kill me for my fur and body parts. And they threaten my habitat.

 

I am Jaguar,  Mixed media on Canvas,  35×45″

NOTE:
A border wall can affect all life in general, and will affect wild-life in particular.
If the wall goes up between the United States and Mexico, the jaguar cannot make a home where it’s ancestors once did.
#Panthera onca arizonensis


AZ Central / Video / AZ Jaguars →

//www.azcentral.com/videos/embed/105143752/?fullsite=true

deep in the solar plexus – the pancreas

I love the shape and texture of the pancreas – long, flat, soft and flexible. I’ve drawn it before and wonder why didn’t I note it tucked deep into the solar plexus? This organ carries some energy!

The 6″ organ sits behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The head of the pancreas nuzzles the duodenum while the tail end tapers into the spleen. The organ is gray-pink in color but because I want to emphasize subtle energy, my representation is yellow (golden) dominant.

Pancreas (anterior)

The pancreas plays a role in both the endocrine system and the digestive system.

As part of the endocrine system the pancreas produces hormones (insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide), secreting them directly into the bloodstream. One of its jobs is to monitor the bloodstream. When the pancreas detects a rise in glucose levels it responds by producing a hormone called insulin. Insulin attaches to cells signaling them to open up and absorb the glucose (basic fuel for the body) from your blood.  Insulin allows cells to receive the energy they need and ensures blood glucose level remains stable.

It also holds an exocrine function involving secretion of digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates, lipids, and in particular – proteins – aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.

Pancreas (posterior) Slight color variation signifies – from left to right – the tail, body, neck and head

Symbolically:
The pancreas is located in the solar plexus, the area representing the center of will.
Connected to it are the energies of stability, instinct and intuition, along with will, courage, choice, action and peace.

Caroline Myss connects the pancreas to the sweetness in our life…ahhh glucose.


I am in the planning with the University of Arizona medical school for a solo exhibition. I hope to include the endocrine system I designed last year. Because the pancreas from that original series found a buyer, I draw another. Returning to it allows more insight.

altar of incense, the ethmoid bone

Coming across an image of the ethmoid bone, I love its wild structure. I wonder where in the body is this angular (cubical) bone located?

Quickly I learn it is one of 8 bones of the cranium.

Look to the top centered, dark area inside and underneath ↑ the skullcap. This is one side of the ethmoid bone. It separates the nasal cavity from the brain.  (Man…do I really need to clean this skull. Though for this purpose the dirty area works as a marker.)

From the front of the skull, the Ethmoid bone sits at the roof of the nose, between the two orbits forming the inner edges of the eye sockets. Ethmos is Greek and means sieve. The bone is lightweight and spongy, full of air spaces and canals.

Ethmoid bone (anterior view)

Neurons of smell travel thorough the ethmoid and the olfactory bulbs that lie atop, across what is called the cribriform plate. If this narrow and deeply grooved plate is broken one loses their sense of smell. All olfactory nerves travel through the crosses and canals of the ethmoid.

Ethmoid bone (posterior view)

I enjoy drawing the front and back of this beautiful bone.

About its symbolism:
In more esoteric teaching it is called the altar of incense, representing the altar in the sanctuary.  The altar of incense is the place of prayer and this bone represent the principle of prayer.

Inhale deeply!  Consider the lovely ethmoid and know it connects to your sense of smell.

jaguar – panthera onca – big cat

Presence of a jaguar(s) in the Sonoran desert determines I will someday draw the big cat. First things first, I need to cross paths with one.

Last weekend, a visit to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center with artist Carolyn Lavender, brings the opportunity. We attend an evening Bat Netting. Excited about the bats, I don’t think about meeting the resident jaguar.

Before the netting, our guide walks us through the facility. Each animal has a rescue story. (Humans…one really has to wonder about some of them.)

A jaguar walks towards us, slow and elegant. Two fences sit between him and us.  I want to push aside a young boy that stands between me and the feline (but I don’t). I want a closer look.

The large cat and the guide interact, they know each other. We look at the majestic creature. He looks at us. He lays and rolls in the same way my cat does when she’s feeling secure.

Our guide makes introductions and explains Leonardo, bred for entertainment, was born in a cage. His canine teeth and his claws, pulled out. You can imagine how not having canine’s has effected him, including the facial structure necessary to eat, consequently effecting diet and proper nutrition. Declawing is not recommended (considered abuse) for cats (big or small) and in this case, the careless job leaves the jaguar with pain.

I stay behind as people move on to the next wild creature.  When he lays eyes on me, I am thrilled (to say the least).

Leo, respected and made whole, enjoys a good life these days.

Leonardo’s story points to the value of the Conservation Center.  The facility houses many animals including coyotes, wolves, lions and bears. While the goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animal back into the wild, in the case of some animals (like Leo) where condition does not permit, Southwest Wildlife becomes home.

Back to the studio…This summer, I draw a jaguar.

As I begin setting up a composition, I realize I must consider how to lay in both anatomy and unique markings. I will need to decide how to balance the anatomy and the striking pattern. (I had a similar challenge a few years back when I painted an armadillo.)

The jaguar head is a 16 x 16″ collage and mix media panel. A study of materials, method and subject that will help me lay out a full anatomy study of the grand feline.


The Southwest Wildlife Conservatory is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals. They provide a home-for-life in their accredited sanctuary for animals that cannot be returned to the wild.
For more info and/or donation (they have a wish list)  → Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

eddie in profile, my brain draws conclusions

More on the brain. And my random notes…

  • you use all of your brain, at different times (not just 10%)
  • nerve cells are the basic building block of the brain
  • nerve cells (neurons) generate electrical signals (action potentials) which allow them to transmit information over long distances
  • glial cells (glia) are essential to nervous system function, though mostly their job consists of supporting neurons
  • we don’t really know how many brain cells we have
  • we can never really determine what is going on in someone’s head (only he or she can)
  • left brain controls right side of the body, right brain controls the left, but logic and creativity stem from both hemispheres
  • 1/4 of our brain is connected to our visual perception (can we really know this? i don’t believe so)
  • the visual system is understood better than any other sensory system

I draw Eddie.

I consider the sub-conscious (the unconscious) as I collage a brain, using a city map of El Paso, Texas, into the composition. I focus in on the general vicinity where Eddie spends  much of his youth (Sunset Heights). I choose the ground work to place into his mind/brain. The truth is Eddie could (probably would) choose differently and it might not be the city in which he grew up. It could be something that connects to a particular person, place or thing I know nothing about.

I like how the collage map compositionally sets the 1-10 highway to run from the eye-ball to the back of the brain (occipital lobe). See the red ↓ line, it follows the path of the real optic nerve. I don’t plan this. How does brain science explain serendipity?

This week I listen to Charlie Rose’s The Brain Series. While working on this drawing I listen to The Acting Brain.  

  • The acting brain devoted to movement (the motor system) needs a visual (internal representation) of the outside world (a particular act). The motor system begins with this internal representation. 
In order to act (to move) one (the brain) needs to know where to move. It needs a plan, a decision, a want, as well as a willingness to execute the plan. There is a whole hierarchy of function that must occur in order for one…to act/to direct action/to move (sounds to me like goal setting).
  • The (entire) brain is set up for movement. Really…the entire brain? Did I hear this right? Do I understand correctly?

 

Notes on the Complexity of the Brain, Mixed media on paper 8×8″

I meet Eddie in a ceramic art class in high school. He enjoys careful forming, making and perfecting objects with clay. Between the desire to create, a mechanically inclined and practical sensibility (logic meeting creativity), it’s no wonder he ends up in the engineering field. He (brain and mind) thrives on solving a problem. You understand I draw a conclusion here because only he can say for sure what is true.

it’s all in your head

I want to map and label a brain. But before I do, I decide to look more closely and try to understand the areas (oh boy! there’s so much!) of the brain. This small study lays out general regions of the brain and some of their activities (I’m bound to do more).

The drawing begins spontaneously after brief conversation with a friend. I respond to a feeling (probably in the frontal lobe).

My jumble of notes include random sentences and words:

  • Brain: 24/7 watch dog
  • Control center for sensory and motor activity
  • controls thinking, memory, emotion, auditory and visual activity
  • interprets sight, hearing, taste, smell and balance
  • emotions are not feelings but are biochemical properties that produce feeling
  • automatic
  • somatic
  • plasticity
  • dynamic
  • genes
  • environment
  • architecture
  • every single thing you do makes your brain different.
  • it has enormous creative ability.
  • creativity originates in the brain.
  • is a creativity machine.
  • creativity receiver (via eye)

Other things influencing the direction of this study…

  • Quick back and forth, in the early part of the week, with a friend, about memory (that’s her in the portrait).
  • I am (still) thinking about pattern making and Aboriginal artwork.
  •  I speak with someone in the medical profession about wanting to understand something fully. She responds by saying no one understand everything fully, especially when it comes to the human body.

Is this really what she said? I can’t remember. I should have written it down.

It’s all in your Head, Mixed media on paper, 8×8″

A note about brain health…
The work is mostly copper and gold ink. On a different note, based on what I understand about brain health, copper is a nutrient at low levels. Among other things, the body uses it for bone growth, nerve conduction and hormone secretion. In high concentration it is linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.