At the Intersection of Art and Medicine

Art at the Intersection of Art and Medicine pays tribute to the exquisite artwork of a group of women medical illustrators from the last century. The exhibited artworks form part of the Biomedical Communication University of Toronto Archive. This selection is the first ever large scale exhibition of these works.

Maria Wishart’s initiative (she studied under the famed German medical illustrator Max Brödel) to establish in 1925 the Department of Medical Art Service at the University of Toronto remains a pioneer initiative. In 1945, she established a three-year diploma course, in the newly named “Art as Applied to Medicine” Department. She insisted that all her students attend medical lectures on surgery and anatomy thus setting a decidedly rare example for that time. The program–with an updated structure and facilitated by contemporary technologies - has an unbroken history to this day. In1941, Dr. J.C.B. Grant (10) from the University of Toronto, approached the Philadelphia publisher Williams and Wilkins to initiate an alternative anatomical atlas produced and published in North America. Grant was working at the University of Toronto with a team of highly skilled, predominantly women artists including Maria Wishart, Eila Hopper Ross, Nancy Joy, Dorothy Chubb, Elisabeth Blackstock and Margaret Drummond who became major contributors for his Atlas, which is still produced under the direction of Anne Agur.

The artwork presented in this exhibition is rooted in classical traditions forming a boundary between the history of anatomical depictions and contemporary representation. On one hand, the works belong to the realm of medicine, however most of the creators were trained artists, who present us with exquisite, eloquent drawings. They sought to explore the underlying knowledge between realistic renderings and an artistic vision.

January 25  – March 10, 2012
West Vancouver Museum, Vancouver