a lesson in art making with med students

Arriving to the University of Arizona, College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix, I recall Gillian, who was in last year’s workshop. She’d described first-year, medical school experience to be like drinking out of a fire-hose. Her words are with me as people begin filing into the classroom.

It’s the noon hour and some students arrive with lunch in hand. Others stand in the classroom as it is being set up for art-making. They’re still considering whether they might stay and make art or use the time to study. Several let me know they plan to draw but will be leaving early because they have a class. I welcome all of them to come in for as long as they can manage.

martinez_medical models

Medical models available for art class.

I’ve been coming in to work with first-year med students since 2017. They are completing their first semester as well as preparing to host their annual Celebration of Appreciation. The evening honors the individuals who have donated their bodies to the anatomy lab. I work with students to create a work of art that will hold an experience and honor their donor. I like working with this group. I enjoy coming to know the unique way each and every one of them  experiences their anatomy class and their donor.

I feel like I stand at two ends; I teach the workshop and I learn. #AboutBeingHuman

I make my way to a table where one person ↓ paints the small intestine. I’m curious about the color. Why yellow? She tells me about her donor’s small intestine and describes how bright and floral-like they appeared. The female sitting next to her explains they shared the same donor. She carefully draws the bottom of the brain. She also tells me everything was bright. They both decide the color and form they experienced with this particular person probably had to do with her age. She was young, they inform me. I respond with more questions. What does this mean? What is young?  She was 66 years old.

martinez_art and med #3

Somehow we begin discussing the blood-brain barrier. The male at the table says he’d thought it a separate layer or membrane enclosing the brain. Meanwhile, he stands up and uses his hands to imply the curve of the head, the outer edge of the brain. I’m surprised. Do you mean it’s not!? He tells me, in no uncertain terms, it is not a separate membrane, the blood brain barrier is a ‘property’ of the blood vessels! My minds quickly formulates a picture of endothelial cells lining the inside of the brain’s blood vessels. He repeats himself, both times emphasizing the word property.

martinez_student study of lungs

I move to another table where everyone is working bold compositions that include bright line, both contour and texture, on black paper. One student has a set of medical lung models in front of her ↑.  She describes the experience with her particular donor. The cancer was in different areas of the body including in the lungs. It is the latter that had the strongest impact and now directs her drawing.

martinez_filum terminaleAnother student ↑ introduces me to the filum terminale. I can tell by how he has laid marks down, that he is working an area at the base of the spine. I sense his excitement as he shares first noting the fibrous tissue.

At another table someone paints ↓ an (beautiful) eyeball on stretched canvas. She was quick to start and I’m impressed at how she’s pulled it all together in such a short amount of time. We discuss mixing a few colors and laying in different quality of lines.

Martinez_studentdrawingeyeballNext to her another student ↓ focuses on the Circle of Willis. She’s decided that it resembles an alien. I agreed after looking at her drawing.

martinez_ student drawing the circlie of willis

I make my way back to the first group and to the student who’d informed me about the blood-brain barrier. He’d completed several fine hand studies ↓ using graphite. He shares his very real and very human reaction to his donor’s hands.
martinez_ student drawing handAt the end of the afternoon, I can’t help but consider the ways we can be confronted by our humanness. Certainly, studying human anatomy is a unique way to learn about another. It’s also a very unique way to learn about one’s self. #ArtMakingDoesThisToo

martinez_cindiphotographingstudent

I catch Cindi (Director of Art in Medicine) photographing a student and her completed drawing.

Thanks everyone, for showing up, and sharing your experience. #artmaking
Thanks Cindi, for inviting me to come back. #artinemedicine

#CeremonyOfAppreciation #ProgramOfArtInMedicine #UniversityofArizona #ArtAndAnatomyWorkshop #GottaHaveArt

no woman is an island

 

IMG_9814

Home editor at LUXE INTERIORS + DESIGN, Shannon Sharpe from Chicago, contacted me at the beginning of this last year. Interested in reviewing my work for potential publication, Sharpe explained they featured a local artist in the magazine, including a full studio shoot. A good amount of coordinating occurred, including meeting Phoenix photographer Brandon Sullivan and San Francisco writer, Deborah Bishop.

Arizona November/December 2022 issue arrived last month!

Martinez_Lux1

Martinez_LuxeFeatureYesterday, I received a thoughtful note from a Washington State reader:

I recently read the article Body Art.  I find that the focus of your work is intriguing and an amazing endeavor. I hope to see more of your work someday.
Thanks for sharing Elisa and Roberto with us. My mother is experiencing dementia and it’s progressing more than I’d hoped and I too am seeing her light slowly disappear.
Thank you for being you.

Dear Reader, I appreciate your note. Thank you.
Thank you Shannon, Brandon, Deborah and LUXE. 
And a special thanks to artist, Christine Cassano.

Read article on line → This Phoenix Artist Looks Inside – Literally – To Capture Her Subjects, by Deborah Bishop, January 4, 2023.


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

©2023 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

 


visual art + medicine = good consilience

This summer, I learned a cool word that I’d hoped to bring into my art head space.
Consilence = con, indicating a being or bringing together of several objects + saliō meaning to bound, jump / salient – leaping . As I am understanding its general use is a “jumping together” (to leap) of several objects, in particular, different academic subjects, especially science and the humanities.

studioshot_martinez sm

I have been invited by Executive Director, James Burns Ph.D, to discuss my artwork at Western Spirit Museum this coming week, and who better to partner me with than Jennifer Hartmark-Hill MD. Hartmark-Hill, among other things, is the Director of Narrative Medicine and an Associate Professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine. Our paths have crossed before.

Communicating with Jen last week, she notes, Narrative Medicine is all about creating space for stories, valuing lived experiences of patients and acting in a healing and compassionate way in response to values and preferences for care. Knowing people’s stories can also richly inform shared decision-making and is a more ethical way to practice medicine. Not to mention that this approach also aligns with our need to understand address the social determinants of health for our patients.

I will be talking about some of my human figure studies and showing images. I’ll have a few  paintings on hand. I plan to discuss some process, including details that set up subject narrative. This might be the first time I talk about the work in almost the same way I record my process, here in my blog.

The museum’s jumping point is the work of Paul Calle, currently on view in their exhibition space. Calle covered many areas in his lifetime, including medical art. Arrive early to see his work.

Medical Art copy

Who: Western Spirit Museum – Virginia G. Piper Theater
What: 
Medical Art: From Paul Calle
Monica Aissa Martinez /Jennifer Hartmark-Hill, MD
Where: 3830 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
When:
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Start Time: 6:00 PM
Join us! There is no charge for this event.
For more info and to register for event call → 480-686-9539
Info→ website event link 

Thank you James, for the invitation and for creating a space for this type of conversation.
#TheNarritiveInArtAndMedicine


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

a puzzle!

Justin, Customer Service Manager and Artisans Market Director for the Tucson Museum of Art, connects with me in July. He’s thinking to have a few things made for the museum store. #Merch #MuseumMerch

“A black T-shirt and a magnet using the Neuron Tucson image.
A set of postcards using the brain-scans.
A small 200 piece puzzle of “Handstand”.”

When I arrive to the museum on the day of the opening, I have to go see what Justin has set up. #Fun!


When you go see my exhibition → Nothing In Stasis, stop in and visit with Justin.
(The museum store…has a whole new look, too!)
img_5367I could write about the benefits of making a puzzle. Or you can make one and experience it for yourself. #ItsGoodForAllOfYou

martinez puzzle 1

martinez_puzzle4

martinez-puzzledone

Eddie has really enjoyed the whole experience so much, that when we are complete with the Handstand puzzle, he points to my jaguar painting on the wall, “Let’s do that one, next!” What does he think, I materialize puzzles?

No, not me, Tucson Museum does!

IMG_5325

#NothingInStasis #TucsonMuseumOfArt #SoloExhibition

nothing in stasis – at tucson museum of art

I spent the whole morning talking with Dr. Julie Sasse. She is writing about my work for my  upcoming solo.

Oh hey…You’re invited! 
Come join us at the Tucson Museum of Art. Nothing in Stasis will include another variation of my human life-size studies along with 34 new brain-related artworks (I’m calling Constellation).

TMA MAM Invitation_Front
Portrait of Sara, Arms Akimbo

WHO: Tucson Museum of Art 
WHAT: Nothing In Stasis
WHERE: The Kasser Family Wing: Modern and Contemporary Latinx Art
WHEN: Thursday, September 1 – April 23, 2023
MUSEUM HOURS: Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
MORE INFORMATION

Martinez_TMAInvite

Directions → 140 North Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701
Phone → 520-624-2333

Also a part of the evening ↓ A CONVERSATION with ARTIST and CURATOR…

In Conversation: Monica Aissa Martinez and Dr. Julie Sasse


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

purkinje and pyramidal – notes on these neurons

Initially, I can’t get straight on the name nor the spelling of each of these cells. Certainly, writing this post helps!

I recognize a Purkinje neuron by its branching dendrites. This tree-like form holding space and presence, is named after Jan Evangelista Purkyně.

The Purkinje cell body is one of the largest in the human brain. I call this one ↓ First Born, because aside from being the first neurons identified, I also learn they are born during the earliest stages of cerebellar neurogenesis (in an interesting location of the cerebellum that connects the 2 hemispheres).

Continue reading

wasp in the studio

I spend the entire morning in the studio before hearing something I think is a bird, pecking at the window.

The sound comes and goes. I look up several times, see nothing and return to my work. It’s rare but for whatever reason, I’m in a very quiet studio this morning, except for this occasional distraction.

Finally, I see it! A very LARGE WASP, perhaps trying to make its way out of the studio! it’s loud and it’s BIG!

Right then, Eddie calls.
There’s a huge wasp at the studio window, I say loudly. How do I get it out!
Calmly, he tells me to open the door.
It’s nowhere near the door! It’s by my drawing table! I can’t go open the window, it’s a ginormous wasp! It’s so big, it might be a hornet!
Again, with a continued ease, Go to the window, don’t look at it. Do what you have to do. Open the window, remove the screen and let it fly out. Close your eyes, if you have to.

I don’t believe what I am hearing. I can’t remove the screen! Don’t open my eyes! WTH!!

Long story short (hours later), I manage to open the window and watch the giant wasp exit. It takes its big ole, sort of cool-wasp-self, and flies out the now, unscreened window.

I haven’t worked insect anatomy in a good long while. I have a panel. Oh, why not!?

I lay in the usual area map that places the subject into the location where we meet. Though not exactly setting it into the right area this time, as I don’t want it to find its way back!

The work starts out dark and menacing. Once I organize and paint in the creature’s anatomy, the whole picture changes.

martinez_wasp

I don’t know how to feel about it. It doesn’t resemble what I saw or how I was feeling.
#ControlAtItsFinest  #ItWasFrickingBig

martinez_deskwasp sm

…colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado…


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

augmented reality

Invited to participate in an Augmented Reality (AR) workshop hosted by Hoverlay and Scottsdale Public Art (SPA), I arrive looking forward to learning about this new technology.

Inside Center Space Gallery – Photo credit: Scottsdale Arts

Co-founder Nicolas Robbe, introduces us to Hoverlay Spaces and the experience, followed by talks from artists Roy Wasson Valle and Casey Farina. In general, Roy covers a more 2D set up while Casey discusses a 3D approach. Each of them share their work (which I am familiar with) and cover basics in how to integrate AR into one’s own art.

Roy comments that AR is a disruption to the senses. And he’s not kidding!
#Space #Time

What a surprise to experience artist Carolyn Lavender’s first try at AR! Mary Shindell doesn’t have a clue what we see. Point up, Mary! I capture this ↑ photo to show her.

No one sees this but me. Real/NotReal

I go home with my notes and an idea and start to work/play.

2 bugs in my office space

I begin by finding images. I can’t really understand what exactly I’m doing until I get something anchored into space. Well then, it feels science-fiction to me! I am thinking original Star-Trek, sci-fi. I could be (am) on the bridge looking out into…space.

I set some parameters, create a QR code, and send it out to a few people.
#SeeingIsBelieving #SeeingIsNotBelieving

2 bugs make their way to Carolyn’s living room
3 bugs go to Veronica and Greg’s office.

I keep changing things and note the changes on the other end too.

3 bugs go to David’s space, in New Mexico

The illusion is magical ↓ especially at night!

5 bugs at night

All of the bugs I set up are troublemakers (to the human body). This one ↓ might be the worst. Naturally, I isolate it. (EBV study (Gene with a Protein Coast).

EBV at night

I’ve been playing with the software a few days and discovering things…like…it’s an illusion and yet it manages to cast shadows!
#RealNotReal

A special thanks to Scottsdale Public Art, Hoverlay, Casey and Roy!


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ


nothing in stasis – a solo exhibition

My solo exhibition was installed last week. I feel sort of like I am returning from a long break and things are unfamiliar. Though, I’ve been working steady. Truth is, I don’t remember protocols anymore. Do we still send out a press release? Who are the press people? What year is this?

Photo courtesy of Frank Gonzales

Let the record show this post acts as PRESS RELEASE and INVITE!
This exhibit has been 2 years in coming. Whew….COME JOIN US!

Portrait of Vanya, The All That Is, 2022

For the last decade, Phoenix-based artist Monica Aissa Martinez has been researching and depicting the intricate structures and complex diversities of living organisms. From humans to microorganisms, Martinez masterfully captures the physical, mental and spirit of our biological world. Nothing In Stasis features Martinez’s latest body of work of more than 30 colorful physiological and anatomical drawings.

* Monica Aissa Martinez is a 2019 proposal winner.

WHO :       MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ
WHAT:       NOTHING IN STASIS – A SOLO EXHIBITION
WHEN:      APRIL 8 – August 7, 2022
                  → ARTIST RECEPTION: MAY 13, 2022 (7-10pm)
WHERE:    MESA CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM – SOUTH GALLERY

Martinez_SoloFREE and Open to the Public
Musical Entertainment by Djents
Numerous Art Exhibitions with Artists in Attendance
Light Refreshments and Cash Bar
Mesa Arts Center is located at One East Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201 → Driving Directions
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum: (480) 644-6560
HoursMondays: Closed
             Tue – Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM
             Sun: Noon – 5 PM

More  → Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

truth unfolds

“I’m not sure if i mentioned it, but I’m launching a new project at The Show: SOAPBOX.
Amy explains, “it is directed toward the news of the daya mix of essays and graphicsI’m wondering if you’d like to be part of the inaugural collection! The theme is LOST and it does need to tie into the last two years.”

I can’t recall exactly what I said though I remember thinking I’d lost a lot the last 2 years.


I had 9 panels to tell a story. The final image ↑ is based in the last 2 years though the story comes from remembering conversations with dad that were based on a book called Space, Time and Beyond by Bob Toben and Fred Alan Wolf (in conversation with theoretical physicists).

I really enjoyed pulling up and sitting with a memory from long ago.

My graphic memoir ↓ is titled Truth Unfolds…cause that’s how it goes.

For all the graphic memoirs/illustrated essays  → KJZZ – THE SHOW: SOAPBOX
Thank you, Amy!


©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

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

Martinez_FlyCover

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

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



sound + light = creation

A new work is in progress. I’m painting a newborn, more specific, a preterm baby.

martinez_canvas

Organizing this study, I began with one focus, shifted to another, and then still another.
 Finally, I  started painting at what was supposed to be the bottom of the composition, only to eventually make it the top.

When this idea presented itself in October, I’d been spending so much of my time in my head (Pun intended, I was trying to lay out neuron structure). When I got done, I was so ready for some grounding. In this way, I guess it’s natural to land in conception (it couldn’t be that complicated, I thought. Ha!).
#It’sComplicated

At some point, I wondered if I could imply those that had come before. It felt natural to want to indicate those that protect and guide. I wanted ancestral presence. #biological #intellectual #emotional

I contacted Gila, a friend who is a Yoga and massage therapist, as well as a doula. We have a fun conversation. I returned to the studio and worked an ovum onto the bottom of my canvas. #grounding

This human reproductive cell ↓ is one of the largest single cells in the body. It’s much bigger than the sperm (about 10,000x larger). And it holds loads of mitochondria.

Ovum

Gila commented on the ovum …..as a sound/vibration she sings a song to the sperm, which is the carrier of light : sound + light = creation 👼 that’s how the universe started and we are the same ☯️🌟🙏

Sperm…carrier of light.

Meanwhile, I’m reading sperm cells are haploid (single set of unpaired chromosomes). This ↑ haploid will connect to the egg, also a haploid. (Sperm’s midsection holds lots of mitochondria too!) In humans, only their egg and sperm cells are haploid. Together, egg and sperm will form a diploid. #Sound+Light=Creation

Things get more interesting as I learn about cortical reaction, a process preventing any other sperm (other than the1) from fusing with the 1 egg. #GotAllMystical #TheCreativeProcess

1 Sperm (of about 250-280 million) meets 1 (largest cell in the human body, released once a month during ovulation) egg.

I connected with my friend Dominique who is a cancer biologist. She clarified: Sperm and ova are haploid, germinal cells. They undergo a special cell division called meiosis, that renders them haploid. As soon as fertilization takes place that egg and all the subsequent cells are diploid, as you point out in humans that means 46 chromosomes.

It’s complicated. I wanted to redirect. 

Meiosis is very important, Dominque continued, because the 4 daughter cells each have independently assorted chromosomes. Like shuffling a deck of cards. One way to ensure a random assortment of genes, the other way is recombination which also takes place during meiosis!!! 

Above the ovum and sperm cells is where I layout meiosis.
Including the 4 daughter cells!

O.k. I’m in here! What about mitosis, Dominque?

Mitosis happens when any plant or animal cell divides. It has a series of steps in which chromosomes are copied and condense as they become tightly coiled. This allows them to them to pair up and align in the center of the cell. Then there are little organelles called the centrioles, these move to opposite sides of the cell and produce the spindle. Think of them as making thin filaments like spider webs that attach to the center of the chromosomes, called centromeres. And now comes the magic trick: half of the copied chromosomes are pulled towards each centriole, exactly half. Then the cell divides and each daughter cell has a full genetic instructions for its function!!!

I like magic!

Mitosis

Well…ok. I’m rolling now…

And without anymore delay, I’d like you to meet Vañya Victoria Jacquez.

I’m here! I’m here!

Vanya made her appearance at 32 weeks. Jeorgina (mom, who happens to be a Pediatric ICU nurse) had a C-section and tells me Vanya came out screaming! Which I gathered was a good thing.

Vanya is Victor’s (my nephew) and Jeorgina’s daughter. Tomorrow she will celebrate 3 months!
Congratulations Jeorgina and Victor. Clearly, your little girl was eager and ready. #soonerratherthanlater

Let’s see where this composition takes me next…
#workinprogress


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

no woman is an island

A few years back, curious about mula bandha, I asked Tara, a neighbor, to tell me about the area I understood as an important root lock. In my many years of Yoga practice, I’d studied the 3 bandhas: jalandhara bandha (chin lock), uddiyana bandha (stomach lock) and mula bandha, in which muscles are contracted at the center of the perineum. Tara was not a Yogi but was (and still is) a pelvic floor specialist.

We had an informative conversation about the general pelvic floor as well as the center of the pelvic floor, the perineum. I had no plan to paint these compositions until the next day when she brought a medical model for me to better understand. ↑  (Ps. Since then she’s brought even more interesting models to my studio that have influenced various works.)


Fast forward to this year, late October, when Tara asks if she can drop over and see pelvic art.
Sure, I say, but I’ll have to look for the them, give me a bit.

I find the artwork and invite her over the next day.
I show her each 2-sided study. There are 2 different works, one is female and one is male.
One side of each study shows muscles and nerves while the other side includes bones of the pelvis. Hanging in space, I want the viewer to be able to walk around each piece and note the layers.

Pelvic Floor Female : Inferior View
Pelvic Floor Male : Inferior View

Tara looks at them and without hesitation says she wants them.
I’m getting a new office and I want these in it!

And because they are 2-sided, she wants to know how she might hang them.
You have choices, Tara! And quality of light matters too.

Side by side as a horizontal statement.
One above the other as vertical presentation.

When everything is said and done with the artwork, naturally Tara and I talk anatomy. I want to understand more about how male and female pelvic floor’s differ. While there are differences in the male and female pelvis, Tara notes, there are not as many as one might think. She gets excited with explaining details (I think she should always carry a dry eraser board), Females, as compared to males, have 2 extra pelvic floor muscles, the compressor urethrae and sphincter urethrovaginalis! She goes on to explain. (And I should always carry a pen and notebook) #knowyourbody

To learn more about Tara and her work (she has lots of Q and A sections on her site)
go to → pelvicfloorspecialist.com

Again, thank you Tara! This work found a perfect home!


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

the prompt is ‘fly”

Like so many events during the pandemic, Bar Flies moved into a virtual space. For now, their usual live productions remain on hold. They ask participants to illustrate a true story, based on a prompt.

I’m invited, along with others, and the theme is…FLY! We can work classic comic style, in photography, embroidery or any other form of mixed media. It can run with all text or even be a collaboration with another. #SoOpenICanDoThis


It’s July, I’m in Texas visiting mom, when I receive the invite. Oddly (or maybe naturally), I go to the family encyclopedia set of my childhood (…time flies or does it fly?). I pull the F, locate fly and make a copy of it. And I carry it ↑ with me as I fly back home, a few days later.

Back in Phoenix, I go into my studio, not having been in it for a few weeks. Looking out the door, to the side yard, I see a beautiful oriole. How long has he been there? He’s so still. #FlyNot

I gather a variety of material (cuz it’s all an experiment) and begin this illustrated study.
Truly, #OnTheFly.

Oh…and here are design outtakes!
Thanks again, Amy!

There are 8 participants Go look!
For more info Bar Flies.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ