I ground my work in the real, drawing from bones and cadaver dissections in the Anatomy Lab at NYU School of Medicine, where I’m Artist in Residence, and from cutting-edge 3D radiology images of my own body, made for my use as an artist. I love the contrast of high technology with hand making and traditional media. My drawings evolve slowly as I learn the anatomy in increasing depth and detail.
The intricately intertwined muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves I see in the Anatomy Lab look so different from the pictures in medical books, where the individual gives way to the generic, and the texture of real life is smoothed away. I work to evoke the textures of real flesh and bone: a sensual take on anatomy, a reclaiming of the inner landscape.
Thanks to the openness of radiologist Dr. Andrew Litt at NYU Medical Center, I was able to have two spiral CT scans with 3D volume rendering, the first in 2000 and another in 2008 when the technology could capture an even greater level of detail. As Artist in Residence, I even got a chance to have my brain scanned, and I could spend more time in the 3D Lab. I learned to work with my radiology images on the Vitrea/Vital Images workstation, rotating, cropping, and tilting them to match movements or poses I wanted to draw.
For many years I had worked from the skeleton and drawn my spine itself. Now I wondered what my curving spinal cord would look like, and how my nerves managed to find their way out through the narrowed openings between my scrunched lumbar vertebrae.
In the 3D Lab, I twisted and turned the image of my spine so I could look up into the spaces at each vertebral level. In the neuroanatomy lab I drew from the brain, and in the Anatomy Lab I looked at the spinal nerves themselves, following their pathways from brain to body.
I focused on the complex plexuses where lumbar and sacral spinal nerves emerge from the spinal canal and connect, via communicating branches, with the sympathetic trunk of the autonomic nervous system. This is where the movement and sensation we’re conscious of intersect with what’s happening below the level of conscious awareness, as the body monitors itself and its relationships and with space, time, gravity, and all that is other.
Drawing anatomy gallery
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