In 1998, while teaching at University of South Carolina, I spent my sabbatical attending USC School of Medicine's gross anatomy lectures and lab for medical students. I both participated in the dissections and spent time making studies of the cadavers in their various stages of dissection. The following series of paintings were inspired by my experience in the gross anatomy lab.
On seeing a cadaver one is struck by the fact that whatever it is that makes us human isnt there. Where is the vital human spirit? Early philosophers debated this question. They went back and forth about whether it is in the heart or brain. Plato thought the soul had three parts: the head, the heart and the upper abdomen, or liver. Some thought spirit was in bone marrow, fastening all the bones together. Aristotle thought the brains function was to cool the heat of the heart. The gross anatomy class functioned two ways for me: it was a way to continue to learn more about the internal structures of the figure and to see and understand another side of how we are with our bodies, how we relate to them after death, how we are dead.