i call him sudan

The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants. – David Attenborough


This week I read about the death of gentle Sudan. Pulling a copy of Albert Dürer’s Rhinoceros, I spend Friday painting a small paper-mache rhino that sits (well over 2-years)  on my studio table.

#lastmalenorthernrhino #sudan

 

no woman is an island

August 2016
Joe: I took a photo of your work last year at the Sky Harbor exhibit. May I ask your permission to use the artwork for my class on evolution and medicine at the University of New Mexico and on the blog that I use for the class: EvolutionMedicine.com?

Me: Thank you for asking. I received my MFA at NMSU…I have great affinity for New Mexico.

Portrait of Sara, Head in Profile, Arms Akimbo (detail)

February 2018
Joe: I’m in Tempe today through Saturday. I hope to visit the UofA Med school gallery while I am here. Are you available tomorrow around noon? Or Saturday?

Saturday afternoon, almost 1-1/2 years after the initial email – I meet Joe (and his mom!) at the Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix.

Joe is a practicing emergency physician and teaches at University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine. He is also program chair for the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. He wants to see my work and he wants to discuss using some of my compositions on the organization’s website. He invites me to attend their annual meeting this August in (beautiful) Park City, Utah. I appreciate the opportunity (curiosity stirred) but I cannot commit to the latter. Spending the last month working on applications for exhibition opportunities including a summer artist residency, I feel too many unknowns to set the plan in motion. He understands.

The three of us walk the exhibit and eventually come to Portrait of Sara ↑. At the time I work on the study, I explain as I point to the upper right corner of the composition, I learn about the cranial nerves. The vagus nerve, in particular, catches my attention because it is also known as the wandering nerve.

Joe’s face registers recognition and I glimpse excitement. I am in the habit of explaining the details of my work to people but perhaps in a medical education environment, I don’t need to explain so much. It is at this point that Joe brings up the microbiome. I’ve heard of the brain-gut connect, I say. He nods and clarifies gut-brain axis. I think about what I understand… It relates to the vagus nerve, yes? By the time the afternoon is over, I know the human microbiome is of great interest to him.

We talk about a few things including evolution medicine. But what stands out is when Joe connects body and environment.  I don’t write them down so I can’t quote his words, basically he brings up the construction happening across the valley.  What is occurring here, apartment building on top of apartment building – not a good thing for our microbiome. Being in nature and with animals, including living with our pets (the natural world) – supports the human microbiome.

We are a system of connecting parts.

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

We sit at a table across from two of my small mixed-media portraits (studies of the brain). Joe says… I want that one. You do?!  He appreciates the techie quality. I nod…those are motherboard elements.


To know more about what Joe Alcock teaches visit→ EvolutionMedicine.com.
And → @JoeAlcockMD #tweets #microbiome and #evolution. And #phage.
When they refer to it (phage) on Science Friday (like they did this last week) – I enjoy knowing what it means! Information takes hold in small ways. 

Thank you so much Joe.


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

On a side note:
Did you know today is Day 3 of Brain Awareness Week. It is!
Notified that I did receive the artist residency, this summer I will spend 12 weeks at the Tempe Center for the Arts. I plan to study and draw the human brain.


sims lab – the practice

Invited to visit the Sims Lab at the Phoenix Biomedical campus, I think – mannequin designed to simulate human vital signs – things like breath and pulse. I don’t imagine a complete hospital environment – including sounds – High Fidelity Simulation. I can’t know I’ll meet numerous mannequins including smaller trainers.

Briana walks me into an area that’s ready for an OB lab. She refers to the trainers, I assume she is talking about students in training. I see no students. A trainer, I learn, is a tool, equipment and/or technology, shaped like a human body (full or partial) aiding in the teaching/learning process in medical school. Briana  pulls out a couple of them and explains their use to me.

We move into another room and come across a full body mannequin on a hospital bed, in what appears like an operating room/lab. Briana apologizes for the mess. Mess? I see sterile and clean. She points to things that are out-of-order. In an emergency situation where seconds matter, equipment and tools are in their place.

I touch the mannequin. I’m relieved he doesn’t feel real, at least not the skin surface. Briana helps me to feel organs and bones.

We head down the hallway to meet Victoria (below), a birthing mannequin. Yes, a mannequin that gives birth. Here is where I get a better sense of what high fidelity simulation means.

Briana explains the mechanisms while I note a 2-way mirror.  Medical students learn to respond to a full birthing experience, including sound. As in real-life each birth, and so each simulation, is unique. It all goes smooth or it doesn’t.

We come across placenta sitting on a table (of course we do).

Briana: It is birthed 35-45 minute after baby.
Me: Are there contraction?
Briana: Yes.

Briana mentions placenta brain. The phrase, not necessarily the explanation, brings a visual to my mind.

Me: I understand it’s a part of the secondary endocrine system.
Briana: It carries all the hormones that mom and baby need.

Right at this point I notice Briana is pregnant. We talk about various cultural norms concerning placenta. She explains it is also freeze-dried, ground and encapsulated, so mom (and nursing baby) may continue to benefit from the nutritious placenta for a good while after delivery.

Across the room I see 2 more mannequins – male and female. As we exit, I’m glad to know Victoria isn’t alone.

Briana: Let’s go see the kiddos!
Me: Kiddos?
We enter a smaller dark area. Lights come on bright and for a second I feel like I’m backstage at a theater production.  

Briana: Victoria’s bellies are hidden back here.
Me: Victoria’s bellies?!
Three fabulous bellies! As I write this I don’t recall if Briana says this or I do. I think she says it and I feel it true – they are fabulous! …and in various stages of pregnancy siting across the narrow table.

I learn about Leopold’s maneuvers.

And then I meet the kiddos… I hold one and as directed I roll it tightly in my hands like it might be while in utero. It is smooshy, flexible and surprisingly heavy. Average weight, Briana notes.

She then opens up the less common vertical C-section belly (below) and calls out the layers. Particularly interested in fascia, it’s the only layer (white) I focus on.

Off to stage right is the plug-in station …
I don’t say this but i think it. Babies, they lighten everything up.

We walk into a few more mock hospital rooms that include infants and young children on gurneys. Briana wipes the eyes of one of the mannequins and cleans the mouth of another. I sober up understanding the elements in these environments are for training students before they meet real people in real events.

Completing the tour, I ask about the student’s emotions and reactions. Yes, these are also part of the learning experience. It’s all about the full practice of medicine.

Briana works at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in the Center for Simulation and Innovation. Her background is in Cardiology and Cardiology Intensive Care.
She heads off to a meeting and I return to my studio.

Photo from the Tempe History Museum currently on view – 4th floor HSEB.

Note:
While I walk across the hall and take the 4 flights of stairs down – again I can’t help but think about being an artist. I especially appreciate the unusual experiences my work brings me. I could not have imagined any of this in all my years of art school.

Thank you Briana. We both have newborns in the planning – mine will be in 2D (probably on canvas) while yours will show up in 3D (real-life). Best wishes!


My artwork – Nothing In Stasis (solo exhibition) is on view through the first week of April.
Monday-Friday, 9-5

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

Health Science Education Building

repositories of genetic information

When Eliezer contacted me, he was looking for something that could showcase his research interest. He was starting a lab, he explained, and was looking for a fun and thoughtful visual for his site. I asked him to tell me a little about his work.

The primary goal of my lab is to decipher the role of RNA metabolism in craniofacial development and cancer.  I didn’t understand what he wanted exactly. I was just starting to make some (stressing the some!) sense of DNA. Are you looking for craniofacial structure?

He replied….Like DNA, RNA is a repository of genetic information. Before DNA existed, RNA was responsible for carrying all the genetic information. While this function now is carry [sic] by DNA, still all the genetic information has to be copied into RNA in order for a gene to be properly expressed. Unlike DNA, RNA is a very versatile and multitasking molecule, and play many important roles in the cells.  It is really mind-blowing all the functions that RNA can play in the cell and yet we know very little about the role of RNA metabolism in cells. 

…Most of my work focuses on cellular events that occur inside the nucleus.

… my goal is to understand how different aspects of RNA metabolism are coordinately controlled to generate structure and function during embryonic development and how mutations in components of the RNA metabolic program lead to congenital disorders and cancer.

We made some agreements. I sent him an image. And recently I came across his site! Look → Calo Lab.

While I have done various studies of cells since that time – RNA is on my list of things to get a sense of. One day!

The body is a labyrinth. I love that I stumbled into it.

2×2 more bones of the cranium

Your skull, the most complex part of your skeletal system, includes 29 bones grouped into 2 sections – your neurocranium and your facial bones. The last 3 months I’ve spent most afternoons studying and drawing the 8 cranial bones that hold and protect your brain. I may have already said this – think brain helmet!

The word cranium derives from the Greek kranion (skull) and relates to kara (head). Also known as braincase (favorite) and brainpan (least favorite) among other names. This is my first time looking at the top of the skull and connecting the parts. I don’t know how engaging each of these 8 bones are until after I begin my study. The decision to draw them all out is organic – one visually appealing bone leads to another.

I’ve shared the 4 unpaired bones and now I study and complete the 2 paired bones that sit on either side of (and above and below) your skull/head.

Parietal bone, exterior surface.

The Parietal bones form the roof and sides of your skull and head. Their name comes from the Latin paries, meaning wall. If I understand correctly this bone articulates with the other parietal bone, with the temporal, sphenoid and occipital bones – all but the ethmoid bone!

Parietal bone, interior surface.

I enjoy painting the edges (the sutures) of all the various cranial bones. This elegant form  below is the temporal bone – the other paired bone. They sit on either side (your temples) and base of your skull.

Temporal bone, outer surface.

Temporal bone, internal surface.

The temporal bones are a wonderfully complex design serving clear purpose (How can this stuff be random?! Who designed it?!!). I won’t get into it too much even though I want to – I’m an artist not a scientist. Lol. These bones house the structures of your ears (They house the structures of your ears!!!!).  I could probably break down the parts of this bone and even be willing to draw each of them separately because interesting shape and interesting name (wow stuff) always calls my attention.

I am complete with the 8 bones of the cranium. Early on I completed the ethmoid bone – for me that wild and beautiful bone ushered all the other cranial bones into the studio.


And on a side note:
Last week was my artist reception at the BioMedical campus in downtown Phoenix.  I completely enjoy the evening.

Photo by Christy Vezolles.

During this time that I’ve had my work in a medical school – one question pops up regularly with the various events. People want to know where my interest in anatomy comes from. While I have alway participated in sports (still run, practice Yoga), I explain my appreciation for the body and anatomy came from my anatomy studies in art school. It’s odd to me that it is not common knowledge that artists study anatomy. I loved drawing and learning the names of all the major bones and muscles of the human body.

anatomical drawing workshop with med students

I teach an anatomy drawing workshop at the college of Medicine on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Participants come from several programs (including a couple of faculty) though the majority are Northern Arizona University (NAU) students in Occupational Therapy (OT).

They introduce themselves and I enjoy hearing why they signed up to come to the drawing workshop.

One young woman tells us she saw a kidney and thought it beautiful and wants to learn to draw it. I understand completely. Another speaks about the piriformis muscle – she explains, it’s from the Latin and means pear (shaped). She wants to see and know this. I don’t know piriformis means pear-shaped, I want to see this too! Someone else explains she would like to learn to draw the human body when needing to explain something – instead of the usual stick figure. I smile and note if I had a patient and needed to be efficient – that stick figure would come in handy.

I move around the room and learn every participant has a personal reason for being here, including an appreciation of anatomy. Someone tells me she likes my artwork and thinks this could be fun. Thank you. Yes, it will be! I tell her.

I want to say a lot of things to them. I want to talk about science and art and their connection, and I want to talk about Leonardo (I never do!). We have 3 hours together – they’ll start something today but will probably finish up on their own.

They arrive ready with organ (subject-matter) references. And medical models are available. We talk about a contour study and I quickly explain the value of working organically. While Cindi (Director of Art in Medicine) provides a variety of papers (surfaces) and materials – the majority of the group chooses to work on black paper (I’m excited to see the black paper – I know what color does on it). A couple of the participants pick out beautiful rice papers and after some conversation – they work in parts and layers – bringing a more sculptural sensibility to their work.

Here are some captured moments of the afternoon. Note everyone begins with a careful contour study and then loosens up (with some prodding) to bring in color and texture. The nervousness steps aside and the afternoon brings a little science and a little art together. Ahhh…creativity!

On a side note: I particularly enjoy the overall conversation. It’s an unusual experience being around medical (health and wellness) people. They’re familiar and comfortable with the body in a way that the average person is not.

The afternoon is coming to an end and  I hear comments like … Oh! I love your kidney! Oh…look at your brain!! 

I learn some new things. I don’t take notes but I probably could (should) have.
Thanks everyone. And a special thanks to Cindi and Rebecca.


My drawings and paintings are on display right now at UA College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix until March of 2018. You can see the exhibit M-F, 9 to 5.
An Artist Reception is in the planning for February 2, 2018 – First Friday, 6-8 pm.

no woman is an island

I know you said your studio is empty but I’m wondering how exact that is 🙂 I’d love to buy a piece of yours as an anniversary gift for Ray.

Yes, the walls really are empty. All the humans are gone!  I do have some critters….

Setting up a date and time for a studio visit I ask Amy – Will you be bringing Ray? Or will this be a surprise?


I lay paintings of insects, a hummingbird, and a tortoise out on a drawing table. As I turn a spot light on them, I feel certain Amy will choose a bug.  But fairly quickly she picks the tortoise. It reminds her of a road trip her and Ray take in their first year of marriage. 

Being turtles…
Cold, November and fairly newlywed (10 months) they drive along the Southwest. Traveling Southern Arizona to New Mexico and into El Paso, she notes they make their way across the border to Juarez and they get lost.  A pizza delivery person had to lead us out!  Upon return they make their way to Hueco Tanks and then head back up New Mexico to Santa Fé and Taos.

we are outside at a café somewhere in New Mexico — I can picture the scene perfectly and we were both wearing black turtlenecks and freezing and looked up and realized we were both pulling them up over our faces, to just below our eyes. And “being turtles” was born

I smile with the visual.

Is she female? Amy asks.
I don’t know. Let’s look at her sexual organs, I say half-joking.
Is this her spleen?

Study of a Tortoise – Casein, Gesso, Prisma Pencil, Micaceous Iron Oxide, Ink, Collage on Panel – 10×10″

Amy drops me a text later that evening… I just realized Rays grandpa used to tell a story about a tortoise named Gilbert! (the map)
Meant to be yours – She is!

Surprise Ray! And a very Happy 20th Anniversary to both of you!

Thank you so much Amy!


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