At the Intersection of Medicine and Art: Reflections on Anatomical Illustration

By Nina Czegledy and Kim Sawchuk.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The scientific precision, aesthetic beauty, and crucial role of anatomical art in medical education is often unacknowledged. Yet the discipline of anatomical illustration effectively reveals interrelated features, organic structures and organ systems. This paper calls attention to the rich history of North American anatomical illustration by disclosing barely discussed issues including the publication history of anatomical art with a focus on the case study of JCB Grant’s 1943 textbook, An Atlas of Anatomy. The Atlas clearly demonstrates the early 20th century paradigm shift in anatomy from a “systemic” to a “regional” approach. This shift set new standards for the depiction of the human body and revolutionized medical education. The majority of the original anatomic illustrations produced for the first editions of this textbook were created by Canadian women artists and are currently housed at the University of Toronto. Our interdisciplinary research group is engaged in the archiving, the development of preservation strategies and digitization of this collection. The anatomical artwork of the collection retains a contemporary resonance for medical education, scientific publications and art, providing an excellent example of the intersection between the arts and the sciences.

Keywords: Anatomy, Anatomical Atlases, Medical Illustration, Art and Science, Grant’s Atlas, History of Anatomy, Leonardo Education Forum

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.403-412. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.221MB).

Nina Czegledy

Adjunct Professor, Concordia University, Concordia University, Toronto, Montreal, Canada

Nina Czegledy, media artist, curator and writer works internationally on collaborative art& science& technology and educational projects. She has produced time based and digital works, won awards for her artwork and exhibited widely. Czegledy has lead and participated in workshops, forums and festivals worldwide. Her academic lectures lead to numerous international publications in books and journals. Her collaborative projects focus on the changing perception of the environment and the human body and are presented via on-line and on-site events. Most recent collaborative art projects include The Visual Collider (Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Vela Luka, 2009), Auerole (2nd Thessaloniki Biennale 2009) as part of the e-mobile Art project, and “What will you do to cool the earth?”commissioned by the City of Toronto for Nuit Blanche 2007 and shown at the Govett Brewster, New Plymouth 2009. Recent and upcoming curatorial projects: Device Art in Budapest ( 2009), co-curator for e-mobile Art, the European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists, Leonardo Education Forum Sessions at Arts in Society (Venice 2009) ISEA2009 (Belfast), ARS Electronica09 (Linz), Re:live09 (Melbourne), KepesXMalina project, Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2010), co-curator for the 3rd Quadrilateral Biennial, Rijeka (2009) and co-organizer of Eco Sapiens, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2011). Czegledy, is a Senior Fellow, KMDI, University of Toronto, Associate Adjunct Professor Concordia University, Montreal, Honorary Fellow, Moholy Nagy University of Design, Budapest, member of the international space art network, co-chair of the Leonardo Education Forum (LEF), executive board member of (NZ) board member of Leonardo/ISAST, member of the OLATS scientific community, ex-officio chair of ISEA.

Dr. Kim Sawchuk

Full Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, Montreal, Canada

Dr. Kim Sawchuk is a Professor in the Department of Communications, Concordia University. Her research interests and writings examine the complex inter-relationship between embodiment and technology. She has published over sixty articles in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts. Her recent publications include Sampling the Wireless Spectrum (forthcoming 2010) with Dr. Barbara Crow and Professor Michael Longford; Verkörperungen/Embodiment (2007) with Christina Lammer and Catherin Pilcher; and USED/goods (2009) with Gisele Amantea and Lorraine Oades. Kim Sawchuk is the principal investigator on the research project Illustrating Medicine: The Case of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy. She is the editor of The Canadian Journal of Communication, co-editor of wi: journal mobile media and a co-founder of studioXX (Montreal), The Mobile Media Lab (Montreal-Toronto) and The Mobile Media Gallery (Montreal).


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