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Artist's Statement: Back Again

Lazzara, Alan Alfonso Jr

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181e19a3a
Other Features: Cover Art

Mr. Lazzara is a fourth-year medical student, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois.

By definition, parts are no more than pieces of a whole. But when parts stand alone, what are they? They become whole unto themselves. In this spirit, I created the parts of Back Again to be seen in unison but also to be seen staggered or even completely separately.

On the journey through medical school, one of the first stops is a dark basement filled with dead bodies—corpses to be dissected and analyzed in layers. Their layers are peeled away, so students like me can understand how to treat the living, who are every bit as layered as these first patients of ours. Art, for me, exploded after anatomy class. After my initial disgust with death abated, my thoughts became clearer and my hands more steady. I felt exhilarated to touch the sinew and soul I would imitate with brush and canvas. In my painting, the man sits with the same bones and anatomy piercing through his skin, visible as if by X-ray eyes. How magnificent to understand the gross form, to see how the muscles pull perfectly on porous bone, and to feel the uniqueness of creation, of evolution, of God, of perfection.

The human body is divine, oscillating in harmony with itself. Think of your layers: vellus hair, keratinized squamous skin, muscle, and adipose—all working in concert. Now think deeper: cells, third space, electrolytes, adenosine, guanine. How deep can we go before we must really submit to not understanding? What or who is the great organizer that instructs the minute proteins to align just so? My art imitates the perfection and flaw found through observing the complexity of human form. I am not afraid to show mistakes in the painting. They add character; they tell the story of the evolution of the work—the story of creation. Our bodies are miracles; medical school has taught me that much. Treat yours well.

Figure. Bac

Figure. Bac

Alan Alfonso Lazzara, Jr

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges