Art looks beneath the surface of life, and for me the place to look has always been the body. I use drawing to convey the body’s visceral physicality, its inherent beauty, uniqueness, and visual complexity, and its connection to the processes and patterns of nature.
My disability is scoliosis, a deformity of the spine. At age thirteen, I had spinal fusion surgery and had to spend a year in a full-body plaster cast while my bones healed. After 20 years of “normal” life, I developed arthritis and spinal stenosis in the area of my spine below the fusion. Walking and standing generate pain, and the constrictions of my ribcage cause problems with breathing.
My curving spine asymmetry at my core means that walking, moving, even breathing require a conscious effort, an engagement with the workings of my bones and muscles, nerves, and senses. When disability made it hard for me to be out in the world, I turned to my body, exploring the intriguing visual possibilities of a body that was beautiful yet flawed. Drawing myself I could work from the inside out to convey the feeling of inhabiting inner space, and the ways that personal identity and even consciousness are rooted in physical experience.
I see my work as following in the Renaissance tradition of Leonardo da Vinci and his great anatomy drawings, making an artistic investigation into the nature of human experience. My drawings are strongly grounded in science: in the study of anatomy and specifically in cutting-edge 3D medical images of my own body made for my use as an artist. My recent work flows directly from the access I’ve had as artist in residence at the NYU School of Medicine, where I draw from bones and cadaver dissections in the Anatomy Lab, and from my radiology images in the 3D Imaging Lab.
As a patient with a lifetime of x-rays, I was always fascinated by these mysterious, shadowy pictures but felt disconnected from an inner self that seemed to belong more to my doctors than to me. As an artist I’ve been able to reclaim this territory, and I hope my work can help viewers feel a deeper sense of connection to their own unique inner spaces.