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This exhibition tells the story of the study of artistic anatomy in America, from John Singleton Copley to Kiki Smith and others.
This exhibition tells the story of the study of artistic anatomy in America, from John Singleton Copley to Kiki Smith and others.
51 backers pledged $2,671 to help bring this project to life.

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Final Update

Hello Everyone,

As the title of this update intimates, this is our final update for Teaching the Body

Yesterday was a bittersweet day, as we deinstalled the gallery and packed things up to send them back "home" - I felt both sadness and relief. That this project has come to a close means that I can turn my attention more fully to my doctoral dissertation, which will explore this material in more depth. Yet I also felt a void as I looked around the gallery and saw empty walls, the crates lined in rows destined for Philadelphia & Chicago, and the boxes of work heading to Western Mass. and the MFA, Boston. I felt sad that these works will never exist in the same place together again, with the same context, or the same narrative. However, thanks to your support they were able to "live" at the Boston University Art Gallery for two months, narrating the history of Artistic Anatomy in America to the groups of students, medical professionals, artists, & visitors who came and explored the exhibition. Our programming was a great success as was the catalogue (which is now listed on Amazon & worldcat), while our final press review posted on Friday on The Art Fuse called on visitors to "rush over" before we closed our doors.

All in all, I feel blessed to have shared this journey with you - to have had the support of both strangers & friends - in making this vision a reality. The image that I leave you with was on loan to us from the  Collection of the Morton R. Godine Library, Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  " Photograph of Women studying Artistic Anatomy with Skull, with Instructor Mercy Bailey," June 1894. Albumen print on card; 4 11/16 x 7 ½ in. Proud to be the purveyors of anatomical knowledge, these female art students exhort us to remember the challenges faced by women in gaining access to anatomical knowledge and remind us of the ways that the body still operates as a repository of knowledge - both medical and aesthetic. This is expressed in the contemporary works on view in the gallery including Lisa Nilsson's quilled paper sculptures, Ed Stitt's triptych self-portrait, Hyman Bloom's seductive and disquieting Leg on Table, or Kiki Smith's minimalist Veins & Arteries; the anatomical journey continues! 

Thank you all & Best wishes, Naomi 

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Our Final Lecture: Dr. Michael Sappol, historian - National Library of Medicine!

Hi Everyone,

We have two weeks left of Teaching the Body and I cannot believe that it has gone by so quickly! Over the past two months, we've hosted a successful roundtable & two stellar public lectures, as well as a guided tour. This Thursday evening at 6pm we will be hosting our final lecture, Dr. Michael Sappol of the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda [details below]. Please attend if you can & spread the word to those you know - it should be an incredible finale to our programming calendar and we would love to gather a big audience for this final event! 

Best, Naomi 


Thursday March 21st from 6-8 pm, the Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Sappol, curator-historian at the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library located in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Sappol received his Ph.D. in history, with distinction, from Columbia University in 1997 and is the author of, amongst other works, A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth Century America (Princeton University Press, 2002), Dream Anatomy (National Library of Medicine, 2006), and co-editor of A Cultural History of the Body in the Age of Empire (Berg Publishers, 2010). Dr. Sappol will present a lecture entitled The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate, or Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- & 20th-Century Anatomy. This lecture is presented in conjunction with Teaching the Body: Artistic Anatomy in the American Academy, an exhibition at the Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, and is generously supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities.

Thursday March 21st, 2013 6-8pm
"The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate, or Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- & 20th-Century Anatomy"
Dr. Michael Sappol, Curator-historian, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD
Supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities
@ the Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

ABSTRACT: Dr. Sappol's lecture "The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate, or Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- & 20th-Century Anatomy" explores “topographical anatomy”— a tradition of slicing and sawing rather than cutting and carving — and its procedures for converting bodies from three dimensions to two dimensions and back again. In the 19th and 20th century, anatomists made topographical anatomies that mimetically referred back to the three (sometimes four) dimensionality of the lived body. In topographical cross-section anatomy, the frozen or mummified body was cut into successive layers that were then transcribed and then reproduced as pages of a book or a sequence of prints or slides. The topographical method influenced, and was in turn influenced by, flap anatomy (the technique of cutting out printed anatomical parts on paper or cardboard and assembling the parts into a layered representation of the human body).

In the 20th century, medical illustrators and publishers developed a new technique of three-dimensional anatomical layering: the anatomical transparency — an epistemological/heuristic device that, in the postmodern era, has come to enchant artists as well as anatomists. In this lecture, Dr. Sappol argues that these anatomical productions — artworks, but also, exhibitions, toys, gimmicks, and other objects of consumer desire — are meaningful to us because of the oscillation between the dis-assembly and re-assembly of bodies as images and image-objects. This process mimetically rehearses our own ambivalent relation to the anatomical body. It also rehearses (perhaps more mysteriously) our ambivalent relation to the planearity of anatomical images, which serve as an effigy of self and other, and planearity in general.

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"Teaching the Body" Update!

Hello Everyone, 

We opened on January 31st to a large crowd of almost two-hundred visitors! Feel free to visit the Boston University Art Gallery Website to see photographs of the gallery installation and view our events calendar. 

Our first programming event occurred on Tuesday February 12th. “Seeing the Unseen: an evening conversation with artists, anatomists, & instructors” was an hour-long panel that included Douglass Starr, co-director of the Center for Science and Medical Journalism for the College of Communication, Ann Zumwalt, BU gross anatomy professor, Lisa Nilsson, a practicing artist, and Ed Stitt, BU artistic anatomy professor. With an audience of about forty and a lively question and answer period following the panel, the panel was a resounding success! 

Tomorrow night we host our second event: "Flattening the Body: Art, Anatomy, & Print Culture in the Dutch Golden Age," a lecture by Professor Daniel Margócsy of Hunter College. 

The exhibition has also received some great press that I wanted to share with you all:

We were named one of the "Seven must see art-meets-science exhibitions of 2013" by Smithsonian Magazine Blog 

We have been reviewed by, amongst other venues, the Harvard Crimson and The Lancet

Thank you all for your support of the exhibition - we could not have accomplished all that we have without your help!

Best, Naomi 

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Update fourteen: almost there!

Hello everyone,

I hope that you all have been well since my last update. It feels like ages since we successfully met our goal here on Kickstarter with your help. We have been very busy at the gallery installing the exhibition over the past week and things are almost done! This coming week finds us focused on the final details: labels, vinyl, & text, leveling, touch up paint, photography, and PR. 

I wanted to share the press release with you all and invite those of you in the Greater Boston area to mark the opening reception on your calendars, as well as consider attending some of the great programming events we have scheduled. For those of you further afield, I will post a final update after the opening with images of the installation as a special treat. Only eleven days to go before we open the gallery doors! Thank you all again for your support of Teaching the Body - we could not have done this without you! 

Best, Naomi 


Teaching the Body: Artistic Anatomy in the American Academy, from Copley, Rimmer, and Eakins to Contemporary Artists (February 1 - March 31)

Opening Reception: Thursday January 31, 2013  6-8pm

The Boston University Art Gallery is pleased to present Teaching the Body: Artistic Anatomy in the American Academy, from Copley, Rimmer, and Eakins to Contemporary Artists curated by Naomi Slipp (MA, University of Chicago; Jan & Warren Adelson Doctoral Fellow, Boston University). Teaching the Body explores the intersections between the fields of art and medicine and contextualizes the study of artistic anatomy within American art academies in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, from the first anatomy text of John Singleton Copley, created in 1756, to the contemporary works of Kiki Smith and others. Sections within the exhibition examine the role of medicine in the development of pedagogical practice, the politics of anatomy, the expanding role of women in anatomical education, and the impact of artistic anatomy on artists working today. Significantly, the exhibition examines both what this study meant for these artists and also for the way that we think about our own bodies today.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with contributions by Patricia Hills & Kate McNamara and essays by Naomi Slipp & David Dearinger, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of Paintings & Sculpture & Head of the Art Department, Boston Athenaeum. In addition, the Boston University Art Gallery has planned a dynamic and ambitious programming schedule of events that are free and open to the public. We hope that you will join us and visit Teaching the Body to learn about the mysteries of the human body and explore the myriad ways that American artists have represented the terrain of the body for over 250 years.

All events are free & open to the public: 

Feb 7, 4-5pm Guided Tour with Naomi Slipp, Curator

Tue Feb 12, 6-8pm “Seeing the Unseen: an evening conversation with artists, anatomists, & instructors,” roundtable with Douglass Starr, Edward Stitt, Lisa Nilsson, & Ann Zumwalt

Feb 21, 6-8pm “Flattening the Body: Art, Anatomy, and Print Culture in the Dutch Golden Age,” lecture by Daniel Margócsy, Assistant Professor of early modern history, Hunter College

March 5, 6-8pm Lecture by Dr. Elliot Bostwick Davis, John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas Dept., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

March 21, 6-8pm “The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate, or Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- & 20th-Century Anatomy,” lecture by Dr. Michael Sappol, Historian, National Library of Medicine

March 26, 4-5pm Guided Tour with Naomi Slipp, Curator

March 29, 6-8pm Hyman Bloom’s One Hundredth Birthday! “Hyman Bloom: The Beauty of All Things,” directed by Angélica Brisk

                   Boston University Art Gallery 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

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time to celebrate ...

Everyone put your party hats on because our time is up and we made $2,671! Thank you all for the support over the last thirty days - I will be in touch soon with more information about the exhibition and rewards. Until then, get up from you computer and do a little dance...I know I am!