Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bodies as books

For those who don't know, my final project (if all goes as planned) is going to be using my own body as a book.  I plan to show internal structures, using ink on my skin, and I want to incorporate literature into my project by finding a song lyric, a limeric of poetry, a line from a book, something in print that is about the particular body part I've illustrated.  My very generous and talented roommate has agreed to be the grand artiste on this project, as I'm only a humble nursing student with no art skills to speak of.  I will be using henna to print these images on my skin.  Henna will usually stay on skin for at least a week or two, and I like the idea of my project lasting longer than just until the next shower.  The idea is that I will slowly start to print all my images on my skin over the course of a few days, and then present myself to the class, so they can view me in my own body, and at the same time, be viewing my "book".

Since deciding on this as my project I've started thinking a lot more about bodies as books.  I've started noticing more about others' bodies, especially those of patients at the hospital, and seeing what stories bodies tell.  The reason I notice more with patients is because often times people who are in the hospital have a long history of medical problems, and by looking at their bodies, you can piece together their stories without even reading a chart.  Take one look at the abdomen of a patient with a GI problem.  You'll see surgical scars from bowel resections, lap sites (small incisions where laparascopic instruments and/or cameras are inserted for surgery or a view of the intestines), a colostomy, a G-tube (tube that pierces the wall of the stomach and comes to the outside of the body.  Used for feeding.), and often several other miscellaneous scars and tubes and bags.  Even healthy people's bodies tell quite a story.  Just looking at my own body right now, I see the scar from my appendicitis surgery at 13, the broken capillary on my nose from the time I fell out of my dad's truck at age 10, the slightly crooked bottom teeth that I never got braces for, the acne I just cannot grow out of, the ugly purple scar on my breast where I had a cyst removed, the piercing that friends couldn't understand why I got, since it's usually covered up (but it makes me feel happy and empowered), the dozens of moles that have popped up in the last 5 years, the "tan" line from last summer that never completely faded because it was the worst sunburn I've ever had, the love handles that I love to hate.

I think we can all learn a lot about reading bodies like books.  There is always more than meets the eye, but sometimes bodies can tell a fantastic story before the owner of the body even opens his or her mouth.

This is China's oldest living person.  Just looking at this photograph, I can already see such a story that her body tells.  I'd love to see her up close in person.  Her body is an incredible book.

This beautiful young woman who is brave enough to show us what breast cancer has done to her body.  

This Sri Lankan man who looks like he's worked extremely hard his entire life.

I could do this all day but I'll stop.  Bottom line:  I love humans!  

Sorry I found one more that I just had to share!  This guy's face after summiting the highest mountain in North America.

Ok last one I swear!  This African tribal woman's scars are so intricate and intriguing and tell SUCH a story.  

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