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Medical News & Perspectives
November 27, 2002

Anatomy Exhibit Shows Charm of Grotesque

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JAMA. 2002;288(20):2525-2529. doi:10.1001/jama.288.20.2525

Bethesda, Md—A body floats waist-high, sliced into dozens of transparent cross-sections to reveal inner geography plane by plane, skull to toe. Painted onto thick plastic sheets hanging parallel, the hovering figure ripples to life with a breeze or a touch, compressing and expanding in waves.

To craft "Suspended Self Portrait," the first piece encountered at the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) new exhibit on the art of anatomy, artist Carolyn Henne climbed into a tub of plaster, molded herself, and sliced the resulting figure 89 times. She filled the sections with painted bone, muscle, fat, organ tissue, and skin, as appropriate, drawing on information from the library's Visible Human project.