A book about my Art & Anatomy class at NYU School of Medicine, featuring 92 drawings by the med students, doctors and health professionals who gather in the Anatomy Lab to turn anatomy into art. | University of California Medical Humanities Press, 2018 | More about the book and the class: ArtandAnatomy.com (comong soon)
“This book is an inspiration, a pleasure, and an education. It should be required reading for all students of anatomy, health professions educators, and anyone else interested in the intersections of art and science, beauty and biology.” – Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, author of A History of the Present Illness and Elderhood, Professor, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
“In Art & Anatomy we see medical students not just memorizing anatomical structures, but really seeing the bodies that lie before them. This practice—slowing down, thinking deeply, looking closely—may be just as valuable to the education of these doctors-in-training as their burgeoning knowledge of anatomy will be. This is an important book that not only honors the beautiful artwork that the students produced, but which also should inspire other medical schools to pair creativity and analysis in the human anatomy lab.”
– Christine Montross, MD, author of Body of Work; Associate Professor, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University
“Medical imaging technologies can help diagnose and monitor patients' diseases, but they do not capture the lived experience of illness.” Medical historian/ethicist and MS patient] Devan Stahl and her artist/printmaker sister, Darian Goldin Stahl, "shed light on the meaning of illness and the impact medical imaging can have on our cultural imagination.” In the Foreword, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, describes my work: “These portraits create a sense of flesh that is at once both opaque and transparent … a feeling that the image is inhabited.” | Wipf and Stock, 2017
“Drawing dead bodies necessitates a complicated emotional journey.… ‘You spend so much time communing with the object or the thing that you’re drawing,’ Laura Ferguson says, ‘that you come to know it in a way that’s much deeper than dissecting it or just looking at it in a book.’” | Liveright 2014
“The book calls into question assumptions about anatomy and normality, and transforms our understanding of how we are all intricately and inextricably joined" [from book jacket]. About my work, she writes, “Ferguson's autobiographical ‘Visible Skeleton’ series raises a radical question: can a scoliotic skeleton be physically painful and gorgeous at the same time? A shocking question like that has the power to help patients with scoliosis and other conditions begin to reject the social stigma assigned their bodies – begin to sort out the different kinds of pains and the options for addressing them.” | Harvard University Press, 2004
"Kevles shows how the development of the X-ray and subsequent medical imaging technologies caused deep changes in how people thought about their bodies – manifested in the work of artists from Picasso to Francis Bacon,” and including my work, of which she says “Her images form bones, blood and flesh, floating free from pain.” | Sloan Technology Series, Rutgers University Press, 1997
A wonderful short film about me and my Art & Anatomy class | “An introspective artist teaches med students and faculty to put down their scalpels and discover beauty in boxes of bones and body parts” [5 min.]
Watch it here
My keynote presentation for the American Society of Bioethics + Humanities | "Laura talks about her journey as an artist … and how it brought her to the Anatomy Lab at NYU’s School of Medicine as Artist in Residence." [37 min., narrated slideshow, on Lit Med Magazine]
A documentary about my work, including the only films of my floating colors process [15 mins., Vimeo.com/14796770]
Watch it here
Articles & interviews
Laura Ferguson, “Floating on inner seas”
"‘I draw myself, from the inside out, tuning in to sensory and kinesthetic perceptions and finding beauty in a curving spine.’ Laura Ferguson, artist in residence at NYU School of Medicine and art editor for the NYU Langone LitMed Database, writes about making her own body the subject of her art, and about the connections between pain and creativity.” | a words-and-pictures piece in Interalia Magazine, “dedicated to the interactions between the arts, sciences and consciousness, September 2018. (The narrative text on this website is excerpted from this writing.)
Katie Grogan and Laura Ferguson, "Cutting Deep: The Transformative Power of Art in the Anatomy Lab"
Makes the case for “drawing as an active mode of learning which opens a creative space for participants to process the emotional complexities of cadaver dissection…. The anatomy lab can be the training ground for clinical detachment, but many U.S. medical schools are beginning to attend more closely to the emotional aspects of dissection. The authors maintain that the inherently expressive nature of drawing makes the Art & Anatomy course a novel and effective approach to this endeavor.” | in the Journal of Medical Humanities, September 21, 2018
Silvia Di Marco discusses my work “to shed some light on how contemporary art engages with the very notion of ‘knowledge of the inner body,’” (in CITAR -- Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts, December 2015)
my drawing, "Bronchial tree (gold mezzo version)," is paired with the words of poet Rafael Camp | in Harvard Medicine magazine, Summer 2014: a special issue dedicated to the writing of physicians
Claudia Rousseau, “In the path of Leonardo da Vinci: Where art and science collide"
“In the path of Leonardo da Vinci: Where art and science collide,” Gazette.net, March 13, 2013 | "Her drawings recall the delicacy and passion of Leonardo … Grounded in science, her work is imbued with a spirit that can be compared…"
interview by Lucy Bruell, editor, in LitMed Magazine, June 26. 2012 | "I asked her to discuss her work with medical students who study anatomical drawing with her during an elective in NYU's Master Scholars Medical Humanism Program"
“The artist claims the right to work with the medical images of her body – which normally are intended to belong to doctors – in order to learn about its unusual structure [and] works on them as a complementary way of investigation on her body | in Images of the body in science and in art, , C. Tavares, ed., Lisbon 2015
Alice Domurat Dreger, PhD, ed., "The Visible Skeleton Series: the art of Laura Ferguson"
a special section of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine with the perspectives of Alice Dreger, medical ethicist, historian, and patient advocate; Dr. David Polly, orthopedic surgeon; Dr. J.Bruce Beckwith, pahologist; Cassandra Aspinall, and Laura Ferguson | Johns Hopkins University Press, Spring 2004
Felice Aull, "Laura Ferguson: The Visible Skeleton Series"
“These arresting and beautiful drawings of a woman's body through which the interior skeleton is visible represent the art and body of Laura Ferguson…” | Art Annotation in the Literature, Arts, & Medicine Database
Laura Ferguson, “Toward a New Aesthetic of the Body”
“Can a deformed body be beautiful? Yes, through an artist's eyes - and I believe art can help medicine to broaden its vision, and embrace a new aesthetic of the body.…” | in the Literature, Arts and Medicine Blog, October 21, 2007
Dino Samartzis, DSc, PhD, MSc, MRIPH, and Paul M. Arnold, MD, "Spine deformity and the artist: Laura Ferguson and the intersection of art and medicine"
“It is her spine condition’s disharmony and its interplay amid the female silhouette that captivates viewers in a dialogue between pain and beauty…" | The Spine Journal 8, 2008 [1044-1046]
“The Visible Skeleton Series confronts the illusionary division of the interiority and exteriority of the body…” | in “Bodies: Physical & Abstract,” Michigan Feminist Studies, Fall 2005-Spring 2006
Alla Katsnelson, "Portraits in light—artists blend medical imagery into their work"
Yale Medicine Chronicle, Autumn 2005
Access Living, Chicago "Arts & Culture: Laura Ferguson"
“… dreamy, sensual images of the disabled female body. Ferguson uses medical imagery to reveal the mystery of the body, turning clinical language upside down and almost literally inside out.”
The New York Times, February 5, 2002
"The artists featured in this exhibit show us that medical images can have a meaning and appeal beyond the medical one." | Museum of Science Boston, 2005-11
Book cover art
Lynne Knight, The Bone Woman Mudlark, 2016
Heather Angier, Crooked Dancing Girl Press, 2012
Adam Pottle, Beautiful Mutants Caitlin Press, 2011
Ronald L. DeWald, M.D., ed., Spinal Deformities: The Comprehensive Text Thieme Medical Publishers, 2003