Something that I’ve been really excited about since graduating is the diverse amount of art-related opportunities that I’ve been encountering in my hometown of Roanoke. I’ve heard and read that Roanoke has been flourishing in this area recently, although sometimes it takes some digging to learn about the various things that are going on. Anyway, I’m currently participating in a pilot series in Roanoke called Mini Medical School: Anatomy for Artists and Other Curous Sorts, which was created and organized by some of the staff at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. This is the same place that hosted the Fall 2013 art exhibition, which I participated in.
Here is an excerpt from the Mini Medical School brochure that explains the program pretty well: “With this series, we hope to provide a forum for creative learning about medicine. We hope this mini medical school, with its special emphasis on art, will inspire artists and nonartists, as well as scientists and nonscientists.”
The mini medical school consists of 4 weekly sessions. Each session is divided in half, with the first half consisting of a lecture and the second half consisting of rotating interactive sessions. Artists are encouraged to bring sketching materials if they are so inclined. I’m halfway through the program already and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
The topic of the first lecture was “Your Brain on Art,” and it was presented by Ann Harvey, one of VTC’s own research scientists. She talked about some studies that the school did that explored the brain’s various responses to art and what factors influence those responses. The interactive session that I was assigned to that week was a portable ultrasound technology session. I learned a bit about portable ultrasound machines and I was able to use one to locate the heart, kidney, and liver of some med student volunteers. I also volunteered to have my wrist looked at through an ultrasound, as we discussed the causes and common location of carpal tunnel. By the way, my wrist was fine–no carpal tunnel here!
The second session took place last night and the lecture this time was “Anatomy 101,” presented by Saleem Ahmed, who is the director of Anatomical Science at VTC. This lecture was much less about art and instead focused on–very briefly–exploring the various systems in the human body. Knowledge of anatomy, of course is extremely beneficial in figure drawing, so it was interesting to take a closer look at the various photos and illustrations. My assigned interactive session for the night was conveniently a dry and wet anatomy lab. The highlight of the dry anatomy lab for me was looking at the school’s anatomy table. The brochure describes it well, it “resembles a giant IPad and teaches anatomy virtually.” Technology is amazing. I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to own one of these tables and refer to it while drawing the human figure. I don’t even want to know how much it costs, though.
Finally, I don’t know how I didn’t figure out what “wet anatomy lab” meant beforehand, but in this lab, we were able to look at and touch a human cadaver. It was so strange to me, but also really cool. Surprisingly, I never felt queasy or lightheaded. I was able to feel the aorta and various organs such as the kidneys. I think it’s really helpful to have a basic understanding of your insides and how they work so I really enjoyed the session even though we pretty much never talked about art.
I’m really looking forward to next week’s session, which will cover “The Human Form Through the History of Art.” I can tell this one will be a bit more relevant to the artist participants because the presenter is an art professor from Hollins University :] Thanks for reading!