“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.”_Aristotle.
UNORTHODOX ANATOMY references the 16th and 17th century genre of still life painting popular in the Netherlands called vanitas or memento mori. These paintings contain collections of symbolic objects invoking the inevitability of death. Although I was not contemplating my immediate demise, the thought of major surgery made me think of my mortality. Having been diagnosed with scoliosis, spondylolisthesis and stenosis, I started to visualize the anatomy of my lumber spine and how the doctors proposed to correct my abnormalities.
From my interest in this genre of painting, I began to perceive my body and my vertebrae as both organic and inorganic with the spine out of shape, constricted, collapsing and decaying. In the vanitas genre rotten fruit was used as a symbol for decay.
Fruits and vegetables became symbols of my body. At first they were fresh from the refrigerator. Then I began to let them decay, grow mold and collapse to indicate a worsening condition. Inorganic materials of wire, screws, springs and even rubber bands became the symbols of the spine, the discs and the vertebrae, the mechanics of medicine. They were the tools necessary to hold this fragile system together. Through allusion and metaphor, I am addressing the issues of pain, aging, the possibility of death and the options for living with titanium screws and plates and cages implanted within one’s body.