August 11, 2014 · 3:45 pm
This blog post reflects on my artwork in conversation with others, and it is included in the Crossroads blog at The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine.
My collage, I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
As I examined histological slides, I was struck by the simple beauty of the human body on a microscopic level. These images—still silhouettes of chondrocytes in the hyaline cartilage of joints, scattered pyramidal cells in the cerebral cortex of the brain, pebble-like adipocytes of fat—were each works of art. And, I realized, they all exist within me.
Khalil Harbie’s The Art of Anatomy
In The Art of Anatomy (shown here), Khalil Harbie also turns his gaze inward to realize the art of the human body on a macroscopic level. He seems fascinated in the musculature of the forearm— the bulk of the brachioradialis, the careful curvature of the flexor carpi radialis, even a hint of the flexor digitorum superficialis. His intricate shading brings to life the texture and dimensionality of the forearm within a planar space, illustrating the very structures that enable this sketch.
Introspection enables a new way of seeing oneself that permeates into how one views and interacts with the external world. Only with introspection, I posit, can we begin to connect with those around us and truly achieve empathy. The core skills of doctoring, of listening and adequately responding to the suffering of other human beings, depend on an understanding of the self.
The human body, and human life as whole, is aesthetic by nature. We are colorful, we are shapely, we are beautiful. Art is at the heart of scientific studies like histology and anatomy because, in essence, art is the heart of humanity.
March 11, 2014 · 11:00 am
This month, my artwork I Will Wear My Heart Upon My Sleeve was published on the front page of The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine! Check it out here:
Filed under Miscellaneous Musings, Narrative Medicine Research, Uncategorized
Tagged as art, heart, heart of medicine, heart shape, histology, Love, Medicine, Narrative Medicine, passion, the intima
February 14, 2014 · 9:00 am
The heart has long been appreciated as a vital organ in the body, one whose persistent beating sustains human life. During the Middle Ages, the heart fell under the scrutiny of a variety of philosophers. Some, like Aristotle, reasoned that the heart, not the brain, was the important organ of the body that dictates human reasoning and rationality. Others believed the heart held different responsibilities as the seat of the soul, a place of emotion and passion.
The heart as a representation of love has survived especially through the heart shape, a symbol that has been prominent since the end of the Middle Ages. The simple heart shape has become a metaphor for affection, for lust, for devotion. As the image primarily associated with Valentine’s Day, it remains powerfully resonant of love.
In Othello, Shakespeare alludes to the importance of expressing such emotion with the phrase “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.” The phrase once referred to the jousting tradition where knights wore colors that matched their respective ladies. Now, this idiom alludes to displaying emotions openly and fearlessly.
This collage, motivated by the recurring appearance of the heart shape in non-cardiac tissue, demonstrates how the heart shape we so commonly associate with love can in fact exist outside the organ of the heart. Taken from kidney, mammary gland, liver, and prostate gland tissue, these samples demonstrate how the heart shape lives on structurally in other bodily organs. These hearts are constructed with different kinds of epithelial tissue from simple cuboidal epithelium to simple squamous epithelium; different cells come to naturally construct the heart shape. The array of colors arose from the different dyes used to illustrate the tissue structures. The basic dye hematoxylin binds to basophilic components like nucleic acids and ribosomes, while the acidic dye eosin binds to acidic components like protein. Although the heart shape is embodied differently in these various organs, it maintains the basic structure of two symmetrical halves that coalescence to create a whole.
Passion and love are not isolated within the cardiac tissue of the heart. Instead, these emotions circulate throughout the entire body. We must embrace these naturally permeating feelings, and so, “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.”
I was honored to be selected as the Grand Prize Winner of the Science as Art Contest for this artwork and description.
This content is licensed under a Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license (CC:BY-NC-SA).
Filed under Miscellaneous Musings, Visualizing Illness
Tagged as art, artwork, collage, February 14th, heart, heart shape, histology, Love, LSA, passion, science, Science Learning Center, tissue, University of Michigan, Valentine's Day
July 19, 2013 · 9:00 am
Microscopic slides = masterpieces.
Bioartography is a joint venture by scientists and artists across the University of Michigan campus. This program identifies the artistic nature of scientific studies and illuminates them through a microscopic lens. A panel of artists and scientists contribute their perspectives, and the profits of these sales fund scientific research. Some of these creations have even been adapted and pieced together as quilts by the Healing Quilts in Medicine program. By far, an art fair favorite.
Inspired by Bioartography, I created this collage.
I <3 Histology
<kidney, mammary glands, liver, prostate>
A collection of tissue slides in the shape of a heart, although ironically not of the heart.
Filed under Visualizing Illness
Tagged as art, art of medicine, bioartography, cells, heart, histology, Medicine, Michigan, Quilt, research, science, University of Michigan