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

observation

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Ruskin believed that everyone had visual as well as verbal capacities that needed to be developed in order to become a complete human being, and that the apprehension of truth depended on the power of observation. – Robert Hewison


 IMG_7897John Ruskin was an art critic of the Victorian era. He was an art patron, a draftsman, and a prominent social thinker of his time. I use this quote because we had an interesting conversation about observation, the truth and the illusion of truth. A lesson in drawing sometimes becomes a lesson in life.

I want to tell you we begin with line but more accurately what we begin is a practice in observation. I teach drawing students how to see, and I direct them to put down what they see. I acknowledge the challenge in this exercise considering it is their first long assignment and it is also complex subject matter. The group took on the challenge with no resistance and overall did a great job.

We discuss quality and variety of line. We talk about developing patience. A number of students share they didn’t know they could draw a complicated object like a pine cone. I see the satisfaction in their faces as they share process and result.

One student brings up the idea of a true line and a not so true (stylized) line. The discussion is a good one considering this is only the beginning. We are off to a fine start.

Here are a few examples of the completed studies.

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Close Withering by Alfredo

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Citrus by Alejandra

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Complex pinecones by Ryan

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Step 1, Pinecone by Kiria

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Cracked by Daniela

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Observation: Pinecone by Casey

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Chili Pepper by Mat

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Red Onion Vertical Bisect, Casey

Susan ↓ is an advanced student. Her work includes contour study (the assignment) she also uses other elements of design.

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The Water Sun by Susan

structure and texture

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Here are a few works from yesterday’s critique. The examples include in-class and homework assignments. Note the lines that make up the structure and then note the lines that make up the texture. Students use a magnifying glass to get a clear sense of the surface on shells and other natural objects. They also have to pay attention to the negative space.

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kayla in process

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JT in process

J.T. shared with the class that he spent a good amount of time setting up his composition before he ever got to putting down a mark on his paper.

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J.T.’s Not Four Shells

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J.T.’s – Land and Sea

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Cassidy’s –  Land and Sea

This last photo below is a Drawing 2 student working on scratchboard. Because Adriana worked with me last Spring, I knew she was looking forward to this assignment. Her composition appeared one black, white or silver shape at a time  She understands and trusts working organically.

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Her work brought up interesting conversation, eventually leading to comments about the nature of empathy.

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Adriana’s – Laura

This is such a valuable assignment. It’s a good amount of work for the willing student. Vicki, one of the Drawing 1 students commented on how much she is seeing. There is so much detail, she says with eyes wide open. She chooses and arranges these 2 shapes, a melon leaf and a bay leaf. They grow in her yard, she thought she was fairly familiar with them.  Now with her careful observation (that includes a very good magnifying glass) she comments on the fuzzy stuff, the hair-like edge of the melon leaf. She’s aware of so much more.  And she draws it …

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….on a side note…
I want to share a work I commissioned from a student who worked with me over a year ago. Kimberly dropped into class last Spring to show me how her scratchboard work was evolving. She was completing a series of small pet drawings. I was so impressed by her developing skill that I asked if she could draw my cat. Over the summer she drew Issa.

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Kimberly – Portrait of Issa