The artistic side of medicine

Exhibit: McDaniel College art and science students display their projects.

April 11, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The vibrant black, red and tan harlequin beetle somersaults chaotically in one painting. Nearby is a double self-portrait of artist Faith Gillum - with the big bug resting on her cheek in one image.

The unusual art exhibit also includes a pen-and-ink pointillism piece showing a harpy eagle's head, with skull partially exposed, that reflects 50 hours of work by artist Natalie Sigwart.

The exhibit at McDaniel College, Uncovering Biology Through Art, features the work of these artists and Katherine Yi, who focused on face-painting in cultures throughout the world.

All three are seniors at the college in Westminster and are majoring in art or biology, or both, with a focus on medical and science illustration.

While shopping at Halloween, Yi began to think about the ritual uses of makeup in different cultures, according to information provided for the exhibit by the 22-year-old student.

The result is seven pieces by Yi, a native of Peru, that show the painted faces of various peoples.

The exhibit at the college's Esther Prangley Rice Gallery in Peterson Hall is open from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow.

However, works by these three seniors will be included in the annual student art show.

From April 19 through May 7, the Kathryn E. Wentz Student Art Show will showcase sculptures, paintings, drawings and works in other media, said Rita F. Beyer, associate director of media relations.

Sigwart, 21, of Perry Hall is majoring in studio art with a minor in biology. She studies live animals in the college's ecology laboratory or works from photographs.

The harpy eagle's head and skull were a challenge to draw, and the piece elicited criticism when she took it for framing, Sigwart said.

"They're like, `Ew. Oh, why put a skeleton in there?' To me, it's more like the natural beauty of things," she said. "It's a beautiful silver bird."

When she explained the assignment, the framers were more appreciative.

Gillum, 22, of Silver Spring put her talent into drawing, painting and sculpting one beetle - which is included in the exhibit, resting in a wooden box full of rounded stones.

The 2 1/2 -inch insect from Peru has legs twice its body size - not obvious when folded in repose.

"I like drawing insects a lot, more exotic species," Gillum said. She titled her entry Many Visions in One.

"I feel that people do not appreciate insects as they should. This collection of works hopefully will show the beauty in this often-misunderstood group," she wrote in an introduction to her work.

To this end, she has portrayed her beetle - Acrocinus longimanus - in styles ranging from natural to near abstract: on a tree, in kaleidoscope form, and in a sculpture of its head fashioned from parts of a streetlight, insulation, roofing and other recycled junk.

Gillum plans to take a year off after graduating, then get a certificate in graphics design, perhaps in medical illustration, art design or layout. Sigwart said she will attend summer school, then hopes to enter one of six graduate schools in North America offering medical illustration programs.

Medical illustration skills are in demand, Gillum said, but science illustration seems to be a dying art, except for invertebrates, fish and some other smaller creatures.

"Photography is taking over," she said.

Sigwart shares Gillum's love of nature, writing in her introduction: "Creating art is the most persuasive method to make manifest my passion for nature: I believe every biological form reveals unparalleled beauty in its most simplistic natural state."

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