anatomy of arousal

“I didn’t hear words that were accurate, much less prideful. For example, I never once heard the word clitoris. It would be years before I learned that females possessed the only organ in the human body with no function than to feel pleasure. (If such an organ were unique to the male body, can you imagine how much we would hear about it—and what it would be used to justify?)”
― Gloria Steinem, The Vagina Monologues

 

“The clitoris is pure in purpose. It is the only organ in the body designed purely for pleasure.”
Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues


Christine, based in London, is completing a training (here in the states) to become a Fertility Awareness Educator. Interested in using my artwork (the reproduction system) as teaching material, she contacts me.

While the work is grounded in scientific medical illustration, it is also abstracted. I use symbolic color and line suggesting the subtle energy of the human body. As it turns out she is also a Massage and Craniosacral Therapy practitioner and understands why I explain – it may or may not work as traditional teaching material.

We share some goals, in this particular case, to educate and empower women.

I admit since beginning our correspondence, I’ve learned what (almost) feels like a new language! Christine asks if you were to draw something up from scratch for us – for example the internal anatomy showing the full anatomy of arousal, what is your rates? I respond in a practical way giving general information for a commission and prices.

Though all the while I’m wondering…what exactly is the full anatomy of arousal?

Eventually while speaking with her (where are my notes!) I realize I think sensual as she clarifies sexual anatomy. She explains more and I really do feel like I am hearing a foreign language.

She emphasizes the clitoris, crura (2 legs extending 9 cm into the pelvis), and bulbs of the vestibule (two – one laying to either side of the vaginal opening). She directs me to reference material, including images and books.

I respond to the information Christine sends. The plexus of veins and the arteries (like a hammock), and the nerves among all the forms also catch my attention. I know they will make for added (and beautiful) detail, shape and texture.

I am further educated by my friend Tara, a Pelvic Floor Specialist. I say to her, I don’t like pink, I don’t want to paint anything pink. She explains color indicates health (pink it is). Once again she lends me her medical pelvis model with ↓bladder, uterus and colon (I plan to include). And she too, provides me with reading material.

I start to organize a composition and I can’t help but recall The Dinner Party and the work of Judy Chicago ↓. I am further reminded of the politics of the female body as I continue to research other artist’s work.

Judy Chicago, test plate, 1978 National Museum of Women in the Arts (photo by C. Lavender)

Right now the study sits on my drawing table. I might add one more element. And then I’ll consider the title of the small painting on mylar.

I leave you with a few interesting facts…

  • The clitoris has at least 8000 nerve endings (a man’s penis has about 4000).
  • The clitoris and the crura are referred to as the wish bone because their structure resembles one.
  • One single gene on a Y chromosome and a clitoris (female) becomes…you guessed it…a penis (male).
  • Clitoris is Greek for key. It has only one job.

I plan to ask Christine if she wants to say anything about the anatomy of arousal. If she agrees, look for a future post.

There is so much to our body – take care to know it.

foot notes*

My feet. Still.
More complex than I under. Stand.
Layer upon. Layer.
Points of contact. Mother Earth.
Conductors of.  Magical.


*These are my notes, written as such.

My studio skeleton sits in parts, on my drawing table. I’ve pull the hardware out, separated and laid out the bones. I take a good look at the long and elegant leg bones before moving to the feet.

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Top photo: Femur, aka the thigh bone ↑, is the longest and heaviest bone in the human body.
Bottom photo: The Tibia, aka the shin-bone, and the larger 1 of 2 bones below the knee. It takes all the weight of the body. The fibula, aka calf-bone, which has none of the strength of the tibia, forms part of the ankle joint.

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Bones are living tissue, made up of calcium phosphate and other minerals and collagen (fibers of protein). Minerals make bones hard, collagen makes them flexible. And unlike the skeleton in my studio, hardware does not hold up the skeletal system. Muscles (with the help of tendons and ligaments) hold bones together (can I call the latter software?).


The feet are my current study. Intricate. Wonderful.
The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. A total of 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body. I gather this information before I begin working. That’s a lot of stuff to organize into one composition.

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Bones of the foot – Plantar View ↓.  The top sections (above my finger)  are phalanges (love! the word). Metatarsals are the longer bones (between my fingers).
(Prior to the 16th century Vesalius called the metatarsals ossa pedi (bones of the instep), and before that Galen called the area pedian (‘the flat’ of the foot).)

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Bones of the foot – Plantar View

See the round knobby bones my finger sits on ↑ (in the drawing I circle them in green). Those are sesamoid bones (derived from the Latin sesamum – sesame seed). These small bones form in response to strain. They provide (like a pulley) a smooth surface for tendons (that bend the big toe downward) to slide over. I mull over that for a good while …wow. Sesamoid bones are found on various joints throughout the body.

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The mid foot ↑, below the metatarsals, is the area of bones forming the arches. These include the three cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone, and the navicular bone. The hindfoot forms the heel and ankle.

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Plantar View – sole of the foot

To appreciate complexity, I work a 2-sided drawing (of my feet). One side presents the sole of the feet ↑ (bones, tendons and muscles) while the flip side shows the top of the feet ↓ (nerves, arteries and veins).
(I get why Vesalius wanted to draw the body and its layers at all various angles.)

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Dorsal surface – Top of the foot

Feet: science and spirit, physical and subtle.

I hear someone say the feet have a consciousness (*bring awareness and care to your feet). They (*you) can learn how to take care of themselves (*yourself).

Stand. Be aware. Bear equal weight on all four corners of the foot – big toe mound to pinky toe mound, inner ankle to outer ankle. Align the second toe directly in front of the ankle. Then go.

Feet guide the knees and hips, acting as anchors to the earth.
They absorb.
They help us to ground and recharge (more than 7000 nerve endings – think about that!)

 

 

 

 

no woman is an island

Mary leaves the studio with my house fly. It comes as a surprise when she asks about my bugs and ends up with this small mixed media painting on panel. She looks at two of them. I think she said she liked the creep factor in this work.

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I particularly enjoy this afternoon meeting with Mary Erickson. Our paths crossed years ago when I did some things with the Bilingual Press (ASU) through the Hispanic Research Center. More recently I know Mary through the Tempe Center for the Arts, where she is the coordinating consultant for online curriculum. We meet to discuss art, education, and in particular – STE(A)M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) –
yes both the bold lettering and color enhancement here are mine.

Before we get to work I learn things about Mary – mostly that she is a force. And she is generous. She shares much with me, including that she grew up on a farm. I get insight into how she processes. She tells me how she chooses to situate herself in meetings. As we speak I have to wonder, could I learn to maneuver through life in the way she does? I’d like to.

Our conversation includes health and body awareness (naturally), feminism, culture, as well as age, work and education. I learn the word andragogy, associated to adult education and learning.

We get to our discussion about art and education. She is designing curriculum for a STEAM inspired exhibition organized by the TCA that will include art installations, scientific displays, educational text panels, videos, hands on projects and workshops. My anatomy studies will be a part of the summer presentation.

We go back and forth looking at samples of my work and talking about process and materials while she considers lesson planning. What I forget to tell Mary is that I know of her curriculum through my sister who directed me there some years back – Creating Meaning in Art.

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More and more I realize how my work allows me to cross paths with interesting folks. Dr. Mary Erickson is one of those people. She is a Professor of Art at Arizona State University → more.
Thank you much Mary, for everything. I enjoyed our afternoon.


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

pseudo science – a group exhibition

Pseudo Science highlights the work of artists fascinated by science and technology, and whose work has a scientific or technological bent – but is not scientifically accurate.  The work of the artists invited reflects, mimics, or implies a scientific or technological exploration, but in reality is not an absolute scientific rendering, conclusion or explanation.

The exhibit  includes painting/drawing, sculpture, mixed media and performance. Pseudo Science will coincide with the annual Arizona SciTech Festival.

Artists include Christopher Caulfield, Timothy Chapman, Bill Dambrova, Casey Farina, Steve Gompf, Hilary Harp and Barry Moon, Mary Lucking, Monica Aissa Martinez and performance by Babs A’Delic.

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©Bill Dambrova
Just Passing Through
Scientific skeleton model, pom
poms, mirror, polychromed wood, and glitter
36″x36″x108

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Hilary Harp & Barry Moon
Thermal Image
Wood, thermochromic film, motors, music boxes etc.
2013

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Timothy Chapman
The Darrsman Effect in Hymenoptera
Acrylic on panel
36×48″

frontal lobe pseudo science chris table with bones sculptures

Chris Caulfield
Tiny animal skull and bone sculptures
on recycled hardwood bases

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Steve Gompf’

Monica Aissa Martinez Male Front Body (detail) MM on Paper 96" x 60"

Monica Aissa Martinez
Male Front Body (detail)
MM on Paper
96″ x 60″

WHAT:     Pseudo Science – a group exhibition
WHERE:  Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery
in Bragg’s Pie Factory
1301 Grand Avenue
Phoenix, AZ
WHEN:     February 7th (1st Friday)
February  21st (3rd Friday)
By appointment (602.391.4016) – the month of February 2014

Curated by Beatrice Moore.

→ Map
RSVP →  Facebook invite. Take a look at this invite and see the artist studio visits and installation shots Beatrice Moore included.

This exhibit is free and open to the public.
Join us next week.