Saturday, November 14, 2009

MRI As Art

mri6 MS patients are all too familiar with MRI images, those stark, black-and-white pictures of our brains and spinal cords that are used to diagnose and track the course of Multiple Sclerosis. I remember seeing my first set of MRIs; they were scary and indecipherable. The neurologist who went over them with me started quickly pointing out problem areas, which for the life of me I couldn't distinguish from the non-problematic ones. Reading MRIs appeared to be some kind of black art, like looking at the innards of a freshly sacrificed chicken in an effort to divine the future. I've since become pretty good at it at deciphering these images, and now find them to be almost hypnotic, a chance to take a gander at what makes me, me.

San Francisco area artist Elizabeth Jameson has taken her fascination with MRI images a step further, and has used them to create compelling works of art, using mediums such as solarplate etchings, silk paintings, textiles, mixed media pieces, and digital work. Her work is currently on display at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, in a show entitled "Conversations with Myself: A Brain Journey". The show will run through January 7, 2010.

Elizabeth Jameson worked as a civil rights advocacy lawyer for many years, and was stricken with MS in the early 1990s. When the disease eventually forced her to give up her profession, she turned to art as a new means of expression, and began to incorporate into her artwork the MRI images that so symbolized the disease that had forever altered her life.

"I start with these stark, intimidating pieces of dark plastic that have defined and delineated the most challenging facets of my life for the past twenty years," says Jameson, "And I attempt to transform them into something beautiful."

As a creative person who's also a bit of an MS research wonk, I find Elizabeth's work to be captivating. I also applaud the fact that she's used her creative alchemy to transform something so potentially negative into a positive of haunting beauty. As a friend once said, if life hands you a lemon, find someone you hate and squirt them in the eye with it...

Please click thumbnail for larger image:

mri1 mri2 mri3 mri4 mri5


  1. Enjoyed this post a lot.

    I lurk on this site a lot, since I have friends who are struggling with MS. I had occasion to have an MRI done last year, and was so unnerved/struck by the audio aspect of it, that I wrote "Mri-Rock" ....

    Very nice to know that people look at the aesthetic aspects of MRI stuff, uncomfortable as the procedure may be.

    And I admire you for bringing all this information to us.

    My best wishes to you.

  2. Thanks for this posting. Very intriguing!

  3. These are brilliant! I've often thought when perusing through my MRI images that I should do something artistic with them. And, I was disappointed that my most recent images didn't have the ones that look like polynesian art.

    Thanks for passing this on Marc.


  4. I was most pleased to watch the video and would love to meet that woman.

    I received a card once from a great group of friends. It said "When life gives you lemons ... stuff them up the butts of your enemies!"

  5. This is new for me, I had never heard about MRI patients. In fact I'll searching more about this kind of sickness, and exposed to the university. It's an interesting subject, and thanks to Kamagra I found it.

  6. Very nice to know that people look at the aesthetic aspects of MRI stuff, uncomfortable as the procedure may be.