NARRATIVE MED ARTWORK

Scroll below to see an image in more detail and learn the story behind the image.


The Medicine Cabinet

2020, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″.

This image depicts a common scene of a woman, visiting her medicine cabinet in the morning. The various bottles contain medicine all of the medicines needed to regulate her entire body. There is something to stabilize her blood pressure. Something to stabilize her pain. Something to stabilize her blood sugar. And, even something to stabilize her mood. Although she believes that she is quite alive, the skeletal figure underlies that she is actually slowly dying due to her reliance on pills.


Silence

2018, oil on canvas, 18 x 24″, permanent online gallery at the National Academy of Medicine (https://nam.edu/expressclinicianwellbeing/#/artwork/159)

The physician in today’s society has much to say but often feels unable or afraid to speak up. The painting depicts a ‘model’ head with perfect proportions, representing the idealized image of a physician. Although the model appears perfect, the viewer subtly notices the medical tape, used to silence the physician. The stethoscope around the neck, in the familiar, yet suffocating way is strategically perched to the viewer to depict that the physician is listening to what is going on all around, but cannot say a word.


My Year as an ER Physician During Covid

2021, oil on canvas, 18 x 24″.

This image depicts a collective feeling of health care professionals during the pandemic. Notice the stack of books that represent the 12+ grueling years she has spent studying the science of disease. She is exhausted and rests her head against this stack while her expertise is challenged by rampant misinformation and quackery. Although she has never waivered in her desire to save lives, note the stethoscope slowly dropping as she contemplates giving up the practice of medicine.


Hippocrate’s Tears

2018, oil on canvas, 30 x 40″. Private collection.

The painting depicts an unfortunate yet familiar scene in a modern-day hospital room. The suffering patient, who is at the end of his life, is hooked up to several IV bags, a foley catheter and a feeding tube. These interventions supposedly meant to prolong his life, are more likely prolonging his suffering. The dark and gloomy atmosphere makes the viewer realize that this poor man is all alone at the end of his life. On the wall, hangs a picture of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Tears run down his eyes and drip onto the cold, sterile hospital floor as he watches from afar. He sadly realizes that medicine has changed since his time: focusing on the quantity of life, rather than its quality.


Complications

2019, oil on canvas, 18 x 24″.

This image depicts the unfortunate scene when there is a medical complication with a patient. Most often, it is the medical disease that causes the bad outcome, not a mistake. Notice the figures in the background pointing at one another to avert blame to one another in our litigious society. The neutral bystander in the front often watches in shame at their behavior because she knows that nothing could have been done to save the unfortunate patient.



Bull’s Eye

2019, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″.

This image depicts the scene in a busy emergency department. There are so many patients, all waiting for their evaluation. Often the job is to find which one has a life-threatening emergency, or the ‘bull’s eye.’ The image depicts several figures, deceptively similar in build and in coloring. The figure on the right is missing her head while the figure in the middle is missing her arms. While easy to be distracted by these obvious anomalies, the expert diagnostician must constantly focus to actually find the ‘bull’s eye.”


My Life

2018, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″. Published in Intima: a Journal of Narrative Medicine http://www.theintima.org/my-life

The Emergency Medicine physician spends her days in a whirlwind of fast-paced, emotionally draining, and unpredictable activity. To deal with the stress, she must approach each shift in a calm and methodical way. The painting depicts a scene in a peaceful pottery studio. Instead of ‘repairing’ vases, the physician ‘repairs’ medical emergencies. The piece of pottery that is currently on the wheel has several emergencies: a pneumothorax, a splenic rupture, a volvulus, and a nosebleed. Although these are life-threatening problems, she stays calm and focused and adeptly fixes each problem simultaneously. The shelves are lined with scores of other vases, each with their own medical emergencies, all waiting their turn to be ‘repaired.’ However cramped in the small space, she is clearly in the zone, completely competent and content.


Opium’s Hold

2020, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″. Published in Intima: a Journal of Narrative Medicine

 (http://www.theintima.org/new-page-40

The painting depicts the scene of a couple, ravaged by the opioid epidemic. The gaunt woman, holding the deceptively pretty opium flower, stares ahead lifelessly. She has succumbed to the addictive forces of the drug. Her body slowly turns into a skeleton as the opium plant slowly climbs up her leg, foreshadowing her impending death. Her partner protectively shields her against the crop of the opium plants close by. The framed picture on the wall is an ode to anatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who first depicted the neuron and improved our understanding of brain neurochemistry. It reminds us of the altered brain chemistry that occurs with addiction, showing us how truly helpless we are against it.


What Lies Beneath

2020, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″. Published in Intima: Journal of Narrative Medicine http://www.theintima.org/new-page-40

Today, people live in a constant state of anguish about their health. They wonder about every ache and every pain. Is it cancer? A blood clot? An infection? The painting depicts three stoic women, all with various ailments that lie just underneath the surface. The woman to the left holds her pill bottle tightly. She believes it will protect her from illness. Yet, she has so many ailments just underneath the surface: ovarian cancer, sarcoma, claudication, septic joint. The other two women also have various ailments: blood clot, breast cancer, thyroid disease. They all pose together, anxiously, with the fear of not knowing exactly what lies beneath.


Covid’s Agony

2020, graphite on paper, 24 x 24″, Published in Intime: Journal of Narrative Medicine 

(http://www.theintima.org/new-page-40)

This drawing depicts the detailed anatomy of the brain as it screams during this pandemic. It represents the complex emotions that run through each and every one of us: denial, desperation, uncertainty, and fear. And in particular, the fear that every single healthcare worker on the front line experienced. Fear at the number of people who died. Fear at potential exposure while helping others. Fear at the utter helplessness.


Nice to Meet You

2018, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″.

The painting represents the unfortunate scene where a young patient gets a devastating diagnosis. On the outside, she appears young, friendly, and full of life. She exuberantly sticks out her hand and says, “Nice to meet you!” Her only complaint is that she cannot remember the names of friends of her kids that she has known for many years. She has nothing else; she walks and talks normally and has no pain. Sadly, she is soon diagnosed with the dreaded brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme. Her world comes to an end as she researches this brain tumor’s poor prognosis. In the end, the viewer is reminded how cruel life can be.



Addiction

2018, oil on canvas, 18 x 24″.


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