Hostess: Angela Jarman, 2nd Year Medical Student – University of Kentucky
September 1st – September 10th
Doctor: You have a bad heart.
Patient: I want another opinion.
Doctor: OK, you’re ugly too.
Firstly, I must admit to wrongfully presupposing that all doctors (and aspiring doctors) were the same: evil, humorless nerds with a sickening penchant for dissection and an inability to interact socially. I have never been more wrong.
Upon my arrival in Lexington, Kentucky I was immediately taken aback by the massive thoroughbred horse farms and how well the historic character of the city had been preserved. Not an hour into my visit I would be shocked even further: Angela was taking me to dinner with some of her medical school colleagues. At the time, all I could think of was how I wanted to shower, brush my teeth, and rest after the 11 hour Greyhound expedition. Nonetheless, I accepted the invitation realizing that Angela had no intention of keeping me out late, and that her classmates were eager to meet me: the traveling artist.
Initially the conversation centered on subdural hematoma and how fatal an increase in intracranial pressure can be. I worked diligently to follow, but found myself having an internal dialogue about my aforementioned conjecture regarding doctors. Then, everything changed. Angela and her charming guests recognized that they were speaking a language foreign to me and began conversing more colloquially… I began to feel included. What’s more, I started to feel that these super-nerds were in fact, regular people who happen to have a sincere passion for medicine and a superior capacity for knowledge. They weren’t all the drab white coats that left me feeling helpless and uninformed in regards to the inoperable tumor in my mother’s brain. In fact, I wanted desperately to transport my mother to Kentucky so that these delightful beings could look after her. Oddly, I felt that her chances of survival were higher in the hands of these three students than in those of the “qualified” doctors at Duke Medical Center.
Angela continually introduced me to her peers and I was steadfastly impressed by their vigor for medicine, medical research, and surgery. Each and every one of them exhibited an upbeat disposition in the midst of being overcome by bi-weekly examinations, hours of concentrated instruction, and an unrelenting breadth of lecture notes. How they kept smiling, joking, and laughing was unbeknownst to me. I was inspired by their dynamism. Further, I was bowled over when I caught a group of 2nd year students glaring at a photograph of their White Coat Ceremony. You could see the pride of that moment brilliantly palpable on their grinning faces.
Angela transported me to the art store nearby, as public transportation is limited in Lexington. I collected the needed supplies and some groceries which was easy given that Angela and I share a mutual passion for vegetarianism. In recent years I have subsided to being a pescatarian, but even then my consumption of vegetarian foods predominate my diet. Angela and her delightful roommates, Edita and Desiree, allotted me my own space to sleep and create. I felt welcome and encouraged.
Using a smaller painting surface than usual, I searched my soul for a storyboard that would address a circumstance that was heavy on my heart utilizing greater symbolism and more surreal detail – to best use every inch of the board. What I decided upon was a visual analogy of a tale of unrequited love. Inspired by the circumstances of my youngest sister (born in Louisville, Kentucky) and the secreted confessions of women close to me, I found the issue to be pertinent to my stay in Lexington.
I wanted to keep the symbols clear and concise. I utilized pink and blue paint to boldly signify stereotypical male-female delineation. On the left border I painted a stream of mated pink and blue triangles emblematic of flower petals. The purpose of the ‘petals’ is to showcase the “he loves me, he loves me not,” thought process that affects those wandering in an amorphous affiliation. Many of the women in my life have sought my advice on whether their significant, but not so committed other, shares a reciprocated love for them based on their vocalized versions of their interaction. I never pretend to know. Still, I find the complexity of the longing to be most intriguing and agonizing.
Next I created floating pie charts showcasing varying split designations. None of them are exactly “50/50”, which aims to illustrate how imbalanced the relationship in question is. Lastly, I created the two characters floating in a proverbial sea of light (gold) and darkness (black), whereby the female character is reaching for the male character who is working his way out of view. The male figure’s right hand is equipped with sharp claws. The purpose is not to make him sinister, but rather to expose the idea that he is perceived to be sinister when in fact he may be merely protecting himself in fear. I worked diligently to create dimensions that would make the images appear in motion. This is something I have been feverishly attempting to perfect. I explained the piece to Angela and her roommates. Their approval of the subject matter and its meaning left me contented with how I approached the piece psychologically. The work is justly entitled: “Letting Go”.
On nights that I wasn’t creating I was exposed to a wealth of beautiful landscapes, escorted to a beer festival, treated to Goodfellas pizza (some of the best I’ve ever had – ever), reminded of how poorly I play beer pong, and exposed to the rival that is the University of Kentucky versus the University of Louisville. Multitudes draped in blue clothing littered the streets of Lexington on the morning of the Big Game. The red and blue garments were vaguely reminiscent of rival Californian gangs preparing for battle. The Big Game (which UK won) was as intense off the field as it was on. In celebration of UK’s victory, I decided to go roller-skating with a throng of med students. Mindful of the fact that I had never skated before and that I was slightly inebriated, I fell more than I traveled forward. I know for a fact that there is video of my most epic fall in the possession of one of the students and I pray that it never goes public. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time.
In the home where I viewed the bitter UK-UL challenge I encountered a marvelous painter. I must show my appreciation for this remarkable visual artist who is peacefully tucked away in the smallish confines of Bloomfield, Kentucky. Realist, impressionist, wunderkind painter: Mara Huston, stole my heart with her colorful wizardry. Her paintings hung on the walls of her stunning home, showcasing a time capsule of her beautiful daughters as they mature before her very eyes. Her brushstrokes captured an intimate portrait of love that a photograph could never accurately render. I pray one day that I will paint so well. I have urged Mara to get a website so that you can view her work. She is truly a genius.
Lastly, I want to thank Angela Jarman and her roommates for being such delightful hostesses. Further, I want to thank Angela for introducing me to her med school contemporaries and for allowing me to let go of my negative presuppositions about doctors. I am eternally grateful for the experience.