Anatomical Illustrations: A Round-Up from our Visualizing Anatomy Workshop

Kriota Willberg, the author of today’s guest post, explores the intersection of body sciences with creative practice through drawing, writing, performance, and needlework.

On Mondays in June, I taught a drawing class in collaboration with staff at The New York Academy of Medicine Library.

The Visualizing and Drawing Anatomy workshop was open to artists as well as first time drawers willing to be challenged by the visual complexity of the human body in a short four-week course. Using the Academy’s historical collection as reference and instruction, artists and hobbyists learned to draw the body and found inspiration in the variety of illustrations.

Arlene

Historical Collections Librarian Arlene Shaner shared her knowledge about the collection with participating artists.

Working with rare books, a live model, and short presentations about the musculoskeletal system, workshop participants practiced looking through the skin to the model’s bony structures and large muscle groups.

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Drawing muscular anatomy on the model, we can compare a living body to images from historical texts.

Participants drew the model’s anatomy in class, and practiced during the week by doing various homework assignments.

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Artists drawing in our Hartwell Reading Room from our live model.

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Whit Taylor’s in class sketches of muscular anatomy from the live model.

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A second sketch by workshop participant Whit Taylor.

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Debbie Rabina’s in class sketch of the live model.

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Allison White’s in class sketch of muscular anatomy from the live model.

Some homework used copied images from Vesalius and Dürer as subjects to anatomize with skeletal and muscular systems.

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Susan Shaw’s homework of anatomized Dürer images.

One of the participants proposed earning some extra credit, and anatomized two characters drawn by cartoonist Josh Bayer.

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Susan Shaw did a great job of re-configuring these skeletons to suit Josh Bayer’s iconoclastic drawing style.

Josh Bayer’s original cartoon can be viewed here.

Working with the historical collection as a teaching tool was very gratifying. I found new points of interest in familiar images, and developed a deeper appreciation for the artists and anatomists who generated so much rich material.

I love watching people draw.  As I watched this group work with the collection and the live model, I could observe and celebrate their growth during the course of the workshop. Witnessing the hard work, diligence, and growth of this group was truly inspiring!

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