SubText Art | SEAD Exemplars
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SubText Art


Jennifer McCormick

Selected Links

Artist’s Website Art for Law & Medicine, Inc. TedX talk Wake Forest Univerity:

Arts, Express, heal, Inspire, Medicine, Visual Arts
About This Project

Subtext Art is an exemplar of how art can humanize the medical and scientific in a way that heals. The project consists of visual artworks based upon medical illustrations and scientific imaging, ranging from x-rays to therapeutic pictures. By adding an emotional charge to the clinical imagery, Jennifer McCormick explores the patient’s experience beyond their medical record: family, selflessness, vulnerability, community, humor, the calming effects of prayer, and meditation. Subtext Art reaffirms the humanity and emotion to be as powerful as medical technology and the brilliant minds behind it.

From the Nominee:

My work as a medical illustrator is to visualize scientific information for different audiences. The complexity and style of the work changes depending on what I’m communicating and to whom. However, in the last 15 years the bulk of my work has been for the jury in a medical-legal arena. For example, I commonly demonstrate injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accidents. These images must be an accurate and clear or they will not be allowed in a court of law. I could not do this accurately without medical training because depicting such injuries requires review of the patient’s medical records, diagnostic films, photographs, depositions, surgical reports, nursing notes, physical therapy notes, and often interaction with medical experts in the case.

After of years of seeing –and contemplating– these accidents and medical mistakes I noticed my sensitivity grow. In particularly “unfair” cases, I would feel grief for patient, their families, caregivers—or whomever I judged helpless. I realized this was unhealthy. I wanted find a point of view that could energize others—and me. I printed an anonymized mammogram and began to draw over it. Feelings of “pity” slowly transformed as I began to contemplate “vitality” instead. Each time I did this exercise, I recognized aspects of the patient’s experience beyond their medical record: the value of social support systems, acts of selflessness, the expression of vulnerabilities, community interactions, humor, the calming effects of prayer and meditation. All contribute to healing. To me, all these moments of divinity in and around the patient are evidence of something equally as powerful as medical technology and brilliant minds.

PTSD Possibility: Depression, called the “black dogs” by Winston Churchill, is an effect of PTSD, however when we recognize these companions can be domesticated, we can train them to stop tearing up our gardens.

Headspace: Stillness requires effort. When we allow it, the divine can penetrate our being and make us buoyant.