Initiative Explores Intersection of Liberal Arts and Medicine

Medical humanities

The medical humanities Initiative (MHI), founded in 2005 under the direction of Associate professors of history Ed Slavishak and Karol K. Weaver, explores how humanities disciplines illuminate the nature and practice of medicine. In the spring, the program brought respected medical illustrator Jennifer McCormick to campus to discuss her work.

McCormick exemplifies the initiative by demonstrating that she is both an artist and a medical expert. She’s spent just as much time studying the human anatomy as she has learning techniques to draw it.

She studied in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she had the opportunity to observe anatomical dissections and surgical procedures. “You need to know what you are looking for in order to render it,” McCormick explained. This combination of medical and artistic knowledge laid the groundwork for her career.

In 2002, McCormick started her own business, Art for Law and Medicine, which produces detailed medical illustrations for court cases. Her goal is to create an impactful and clear image to help juries understand that the injuries happened to another human being, while also presenting an unbiased demonstration of how the victim’s anatomy was impacted.

Witnessing the pain and suffering of the victims in her cases led McCormick to her artistic work X-ray Visions. She uses radiography and soft pastels layered onto lithographic paper with white gouache to produce hand-painted bird images. Through her work, McCormick conveys her faith in the recovery of the victims and clearly demonstrates the connection between medicine and the humanities.

The MHI regularly sponsors events on campus led by nationally recognized scholars and Susquehanna faculty and students. Other event topics have included dance therapy and pain relief, the history of anorexia nervosa, and the photographic documentation of Iraqi war veterans.

Contributing writers to The ’Grove section are Karen Jones, assistant director of media relations; Megan McDermott ’14, a creative writing and religion major from Lewisberry, Pa.; Dalton Swett ‘13, a creative writing major from Effingham, N.H.; and Elise Tomaszewski, a creative writing and German major from Selinsgrove, Pa.

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