October Round-Up


20141007 NPHR reception

October has been a busy and exciting month for the first and second year Biomedical Visualization students!  Here’s a break down of some of the activities they participated in:

University of Chicago Special Collections Archive:

The University of Chicago's Special Collections Archive

The University of Chicago’s Special Collections Archive

As mentioned in an earlier post, the first year students took a trip to the University of Chicago Special Collection Archive to get first hand exposure to some of the most important and exquisitely illustrated anatomical atlases that have been produced in the last several centuries.  The collection includes original copies of works by Vesalius, Albinus, Bidloo, William Cowper, William Hunter, Juan Valverde de Amusco, and countless others.  This is an incredibly rare opportunity to see these original works, many of which members of the BVIS community have only seen reprinted in textbooks.  Honestly, this collection is the epitome of a medical illustrator’s wildest geek fantasy.  This is like getting to go INSIDE the Millennium Falcon and meeting Han Solo and Chewie!  But I digress…  Some of the first year students were gracious enough to add some of their experiences from their visit, as well as some incredible photos from the collection below!



Bourgery – Traité complete de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire

“The “traité complete de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire” or “the complete atlas of human anatomy and surgery” was begun in 1830 by French doctor jean-baptiste Marc bourgery and illustrator Nicolas Henri Jacob, who was a student of Jacques-Louis David. The atlas comprises 8 volumes- 1-5 are descriptive anatomy, 6-7 are surgical anatomy, and volume 8 was philosophical and general anatomy. The atlas is over 2000 pages, contains 726 hand-colored lithographs, and took 23 years to complete. The last volume was not published until after jean-baptiste died. While the text is largely considered obsolete, the atlas is widely thought to be one of the most beautifully rendered and comprehensive atlases of the 19th century.” – Melanie Conrad and Sam Bond


 Bidloo – Anatomia Humani Corporis

“At our visit to the University of Chicago I had the pleasure to introduce the book “Anatomia Humani Corporis” by Govard Bidloo.  The book was published in 1685 and it contained the most ground breaking anatomical illustrations that had been produced in over 100 years. The work was also significant because it contained studies of the skin and fingerprints that became the beginnings of the research starting forensic science. The book had 105 naturalistic engraved drawings made by Gerard de Lairesse. The book did not sell well and this is what may have prompted the publisher to sell the plates of the book. An English surgeon, William Cowper (Cowper’s gland), bought the plates and plagiarized the entire book. And just to mock Bidloo, he included a self-portrait in his book where he used the same outfit, pose, and wig as Bidloo did in his book. Due to the lack of copyright laws, William Cowper was never punished.”  -Linda Marie Martinez


Eva Mae Natividad

Albinus – Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani

“It was a privilege to be able to see the special collections at the University of Chicago. The collective history that the books made up in a single room was beyond comprehension, and added to my appreciation of the field of medical illustration. The book I researched in particular was Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani by Bernhard Siegfried Albinus. There’s a whole bit of history about plagiarism issues in which an English translation was printed without Albinus’ permission, but copyright was not particularly in effect in the 1700s. In fact, the copy that University of Chicago had displayed was the traitorous English version! Nonetheless, the images of the book were overwhelmingly beautiful. Albinus hired an engraver, Jan Wandelaar, who took careful direction from Albinus. Wandelaar’s images are particularly interesting as early medical illustrations not only for the astounding quality and accuracy, but also for the fact that they incorporate elaborate, exotic backgrounds to “give life” to the drawn bodies. In addition to the strength of the content of the images, the size of the prints were also powerful.” – Eva Mae Natividad


Northwestern Public Health Review:


A handful of students also had the opportunity to present their work at the Northwestern Public Health Review’s Annual Public Health Matters Seminar.  Last Spring, students in John Daugherty’s Illustration Techniques course completed illustrations for the NPHR as one of their assignments.  For many students, this was their first opportunity to work with a client in a professional environment.  Here are a few photos of the event, the work that was submitted by the students, and some brief input from them on their experiences working on the project:

Robert Shonk - The Synergy of Public Health and International Criminal Law in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Robert Shonk – The Synergy of Public Health and International Criminal Law in Post-Genocide Rwanda

“It was a rare and exciting opportunity to be given an assignment to create a work of editorial art with the added bonus of possibly seeing it used by a prestigious journal of public health. The article I chose for my contribution, by Juliet Sorensen, told the harrowing story of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the prosecution of the perpetrators and the role of public health to restore a civil society. The challenge was to create a piece that would sensibly and elegantly integrate these three concepts. The composition I eventually arrived at contrasted a starkly realistic depiction of skeletal remains with idealized symbolic elements: the caduceus, scales of justice and a tangle of sprouting greenery. After a final sketch was approved by Ms. Sorensen and editor in chief Celeste Mallama, I rendered the final art in Photoshop. And then the great honor of having it chosen for inclusion in the art exhibit that accompanied the annual public health matters seminar. It was a memorable evening, as it is always a thrill to see one’s own art on display, especially alongside the amazing work of my fellow students. In all, the experience ranks as a highlight of my graduate student experience.” – Robert Shonk


Grace Hsu - Targeted cancer education for Asian Americans

Grace Hsu – Targeted cancer education for Asian Americans

“For my editorial illustration, I chose to do the article entitled “From Death Sentence to Cure: Re-thinking cancer education for Asian Americans in Chicago” by Shruti Zaveri.  It was a very challenging process to come up with artwork that reflects the main theme of the article and at the same time remains culturally sensitive.   What I focused on was the targeted approach to cancer education that the author is suggesting.  I chose to present each culture in an iconic way where I draw inspiration from traditional motifs in Chinese, Korean and Indian cultures.  The overall style was inspired by Chinese watercolor and calligraphy.  It was an amazing experience collaborating with researchers in public health to bring important public health issues to people’s attention.” – Grace Hsu


Meredith Osborn

Meredith Osborn – Typhoid and the 1893 World’s Fair

“At the center of the 1893 Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair) was a large pool of water intended to connote Columbus’s journey across the ocean. Unfortunately, it also had the potential to represent a major threat to the fair’s success: typhoid spread through contaminated water.  In the editorial the exposition skyline and data flow visually, with the peak of the administration building corresponding with the peak of the epidemic… right before the fair. Thanks to the remarkable efforts of public health engineers, they stopped the epidemic while hosting 27 million visitors.” – Meredith Osborn


Katherine Henning

Katherine Henning – In Limbo

“Patients waiting for organ transplants reside in a plane of uncertainty and isolation; some patients may even perish waiting for the organs they require. Gregory Tyson’s discussion of organ donation in his piece “Organ Donor Crisis: The need for new solutions” on the NPHR blog was absolutely the inspiration for this illustration. I wanted to evoke emotion in the viewer so as to make them think deeply about the individuals affected by the shortage of donated organs and, as Tyson does in his article, to think about solutions to this problem. It was wonderful to see this illustration displayed at NPHR’s “Public Health Matters” Seminar where it hopefully sparked conversation about organ donation among those who viewed the piece.” – Katherine Henning


Faith Simunyu - A call for help from the landmine victims in Colombia

Faith Simunyu – A call for help from the landmine victims in Colombia

“This was the first editorial illustration I had ever made.  As I read through the article, I tried to formulate what the most important aspects were. Some of these were told in the form of short stories. I sympathized with the people whose stories were being told in the article. The writer mentioned that children who stepped on landmines often lost their limbs. To others, this was the end of their dreams. I then decided to focus my attention on the lower limbs. The idea was to show a boy’s foot stepping on a landmine and to indicate the tension and pressure that occurs right before the foot is blown apart by the landmine. It was an honor to have my work showcased with other pieces promoting public health through pictures. It was a great experience being able to talk to people directly who were curious about my illustration and why I made the decisions I made.” – Faith Simunyu


Meredith Hoffman - Typhoid at the 1893 World's Fair

Meredith Hoffman – Typhoid at the 1893 World’s Fair

“It was a wonderful opportunity to create an editorial illustration for the NPHR. I tried to have a lot of fun with it, and allowed myself to be inspired by someone’s writing and storytelling. The article I worked with revolved around the typhoid outbreak in Chicago leading up to the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I wanted to take a well-known image – a map of the fair grounds – and illustrate the threat of infection that the outbreak posed. The article’s author had requested that typhoid statistics be incorporated into the illustration, so this also became an exercise in how to accommodate specific requests while still maintaining the aesthetic that I was aiming for.  It was wonderful to see the work printed and displayed at Northwestern’s Public Health Matters Seminar, and to be engaged in a conversation on the role of illustrations in communicating public health.” – Meredith Hoffman


Thank you to all the students who participated in these events and offered some insight into their experiences!

October was such a busy month for the Biomedical Visualization Program that we will be putting together another post entirely dedicated to the 2014 Armitage Lecture Series…Coming soon!




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