Monday, October 15, 2012

For Science

For Science.  Stitched words:  My body will be donated to a medical school.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  Unframed:  25" x 19"; framed:  31" x 25".  Hand embroidered and beaded.  Click on image to enlarge.

Rita Blockson is a talented fiber artist who works in quilting and felting.  She is also a life long educator and author.  Her work is wonderful and she's always passing on her extensive knowledge through classes, quilting guilds, and various other activities.  Yet, there's something very special about Rita's generosity that is most unexpected.   Rita has left her body to a medical school.....volunteering it for the sake of science.

Rita knows that her heart is generous but it is also INTERESTING.  Why?  Well, the first open heart surgery was performed in 1952.  At five months of age Rita became a "pioneer" in this 1953!  She underwent open-heart surgery again at age seven, 1959.  By 1993 she was diagnosed with serious heart problems again.  She was not expected to survive the impending heart surgery but knew her lifelong health issues made her an excellent candidate for scientific studies at the medical school.  She signed the donation papers.

Rita wrote, "Little did I know the can of worms that I opened ... because the Dean of the medical school had to get involved in the donation to ensure that Jason (her son), as a current medical student, did not "encounter" me in a classroom situation."  Fortunately, things didn't come to that.  Rita is alive and well....quilting, felting, and teaching in ArizonaThe donation form is still valid....for when the time comes!

I stitched the portrait using some of the artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters.  To some people, that might sound odd because Rita will not necessarily have a gravesite of her own.  Yet, I know that medical schools are very, very respectful.  I've been to the medical school cemetery for the University of South Carolina.... and it does have artificial flower arrangements!  Flowers are given as a sign of respect and that's why I added them to this portrait.  The sterling silver pin was from a "box lot" I bought at a local auction house.  It wanted it to be used for "something special".

There's one more thing about this piece that I can't fail to mention.  Rita's health issues undoubtedly influenced her son's decision to work in the medical field.  He did finish school and is a talented pediatric plastic surgeon doing craniofacial work at Payton Manning Children's Hospital.  He has performed MIRACLES in Guatemala with the Hirsche Smiles group out of Utah...27 cleft palette operations in only seven days.

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