Left to Right: Influenza (2023), Covid-19 (2020), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (2023) by Diana Lahr. - Staff Writer / Maryela Gallardo

Artists gravitate towards painting things for the purpose of beauty but art can also have a practical purpose. Senior biomedical art and visualization art major Diana Lahr demonstrates the purpose of art in the medical field. 

In her gallery, “Innovative Insights: Visualizing Complex Concepts through Art,” she shows how these concepts of different diseases, medical practices and other procedures can be shown through art. This gallery was open from March 6 to March 12 with a reception on March 10, 2023 from 5 – 7 p.m. 

In order to learn more about the biomedical art field, you need to understand Lahr more, her purposes for creating such pieces and how studying this major has impacted her as a person. 

Can you talk to me about some of your thoughts and why you created the pieces COVID-19, Necrosis and Medical Malpractice Baby? 

“COVID-19: When I was creating the COVID-19 piece it was the first fall semester after COVID took over everyone’s lives. I was scared, and I was interested in it. Every time I sat down for dinner that’s all they were talking about on the news, and they always showed a model of COVID-19 designed by the CDC and other models. All these models were different, none were coherent. What did the COVID actually look like I thought, so I created my own. What you get from a Medical artist that you don’t get from a normal artist is scientific training.

Necrosis: Necrosis is one piece of a two-piece series called ‘Cellular Degradation.’ The other piece in this series is Apoptosis. The National Institutes of Health characterizes Necrosis as passive, accidental cell death resulting from environmental perturbations with uncontrolled release of inflammatory cellular contents. Apoptosis is described as an active, programmed process of autonomous cellular dismantling that avoids eliciting inflammation. I illustrated both kinds of cellular degradation in colored pencil. The originals were a gift to one of my wonderful professors.

Medical Malpractice Baby: The Medical Malpractice Baby is an example of medical legal art. As a biomedical artist there will be a lot of fields of work that will be open to me when I leave college and one area I could go into is law. Art is used in medical proceedings because explaining a situation doesn’t get the point across to the jurors like seeing it. You want the jury to care about what happened to you and care about your situation and that’s why medical artists specializing in law are a thing. Now if I told you my child was killed due to medical malpractice you would probably feel well that’s horrible, I would never want that to happen to me, but how would you feel if I showed you how they died. It would hit closer to home, wouldn’t it? You would feel as though that was a mistake on the doctors’ part that caused the death of a child. There would be more emotion, and that’s what you want the people on the jury to feel.”

What are your hopes for the gallery showing?

“I seek to create visual representations of complex ideas and processes that are often difficult to grasp. I hope to make them more accessible and engaging for a broader audience. I believe that this approach can help people better understand and appreciate the intricacies of the world around us, leading to a deeper appreciation for the beauty and complexity of life. Ultimately, my goal as an artist is to inspire others to think creatively and critically about the world we live in.”

How has being a biomedical artist impacted you as a person?

“Being a biomedical artist has impacted me as a person because it broadened my idea of what art could be. Art isn’t just traditional, it’s not just paints, pen and ink, and colored pencil, but it’s also 3D-modeling, computer art, and it can also be lots and lots of studying and research. I feel like I’m a more well-rounded person both artistically and as a person with lots of love and understanding of science.”

What are your messages for artists who want to learn more about the biomedical art field?

If you’re interested, just do it. It’s a lot more work then you would ever expect but you will come out with a love and an appreciation for both the arts and the sciences. You will also come out with a better work ethic that will serve you very well in the industry.

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