WARNING! IF SKETCHED IMAGES OF DEAD AND DISSECTED HUMAN BODIES ARE DISTURBING TO YOU THEN DON'T READ THIS POST!!! I MEAN IT. - KW
ANATOMY AND CADAVERS
As you probably already know, a detailed study of human anatomy doesn't necessarily require us to partake in the dissection of cadavers. With in-depth reading materials, exceptional illustrations, incredible anatomy apps that can show you layers of anatomical structures rendered three dimensionally, and a willing living human body at hand to practice palpation upon, you can meet educational requirements for many fitness, health science, and artistic professions.
Even so, I've had the fortune of studying anatomy in and out of cadaver labs for almost 40 years. (Wow!) My latest affiliation with an anatomy lab was last year as a co-teacher with artist Laura Ferguson in her Art And Anatomy drawing classes at NYU. She has been teaching this class for years and it is an amazing experience. For more about the class, visit the Art And Anatomy website.
(For more about my adventures teaching graphic medicine seminars through in The Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, visit this blogpost.)
ANATOMY AND DEATH
Conversations last fall with Laura and with NYU faculty about anatomic, artistic, and healthcare education gave me a lot of time to think about my relationships to bodies, anatomy, art, and death over the last 40 years. I spent very fulfilling quiet time in the lab sketching and examining bodies, watching students draw, and thinking about the professional and personal growth that repeated exposure to death and dying has provoked over the course of my lifetime.
In January started looking at my last 16 years of figure drawings and cadaver sketches. I thought about my work as a massage therapist with seriously ill and dying patients and friends. I thought about the death of my father. I thought about my new relationship to the cadavers in the lab: I was there as an artist instead of health sciences student or teacher. Wow! What a change in perspective.
Of course the inevitable happened - I made a graphic memoir about my life with cadavers, illustrated exclusively from my sketchbooks.
ANATOMY AND LIFE
I really got into drawing faces in the lab. I started to like some of the cadavers more than others. Obviously they had no say in my perception of our relationship, but I started to think of these bodies as my friends!
Working with cadavers is a life-changing experience. My work with dead human bodies definitely influenced my massage treatments of living human bodies. It helped me process the death of my father. It changed the way I see bodies. If you're curious about any of this, then this book may be for you! If you want to know what it's like to dissect a cadaver, this book may be for you! If you are curious about different ways people emotionally cope with dissecting human bodies, this book may be for you! This book is definitely NOT for you if sketches of dissected human bodies and faces are too disturbing.
The identities of these living and dead bodies can't be determined through the sketches in the book. Tattoos and distinctive skin markings (other than my own) are not show. The facial features of live models are obscured and the faces of the dead models have been dissected. No one is identifiable.
If you'd like to order a copy of Cadaver Diaries, take this link to Birdcage Bottom Books.