Since my last post:
The University of Chicago alumni magazine, “Medicine on the Midway”, did an article about the Graphic Medicine course I co-taught with Brian Callender this winter. It also covers other great work happening in the medical center that employs comics.
Based on the work produced by the students, the ongoing emails from students looking to integrate graphic medicine into their other academic and life work, and the reviews they provided, we believe the course was a great success. We are eager to take what we’ve learned from teaching this first course and apply those lessons to our next one.
In February, Tangles creator and friend Sarah Leavitt invited me to speak in her classes at the University of British Columbia. Aside from the opportunity to spend time in the beauty of Vancouver, speaking to her creative writing classes and in the school of nursing was an opportunity to hear a Canadian perspective on how graphic medicine, my book Taking Turns, and the history of the AIDS crisis is resonating with creative young readers.
Speaking of young people, I also had the opportunity back in Chicago this winter to work with students at Walter Payton High School. They quickly took to graphic medicine and made instructional comics about the signs and symptoms of infection and/or concussion.
Next up was the opportunity to return to Professor Paul Solomon’s Direct Encounter with the Arts course at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I’m always so impressed with the work Paul does to get his two large cohorts of undergraduate students connecting with performers and creators in the visual and performing arts. It’s an honor to be one of them. With this group we tried a new exercise, which is based on a hybrid of Lynda Barry and Ivan Brunetti’s work. I had them look at a single panel from Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles projected in the front of the room, and draw it as they see it. These students have not read the book as they are new to graphic medicine. I then gave them a brief description of the book and I had them take that single image, not knowing what else is on the page, draw what they might imagine came before and what came after the panel they just drew. This ended up being a terrific exercise, fully engaging both classes of students.
Next up was a trip to New York to witness Lois Perelson Gross present her terrific project “Never the Right Time” at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. NTRT utilizes single panel New Yorker comics to add levity and insight into the challenging project of talking to one’s loved ones and agents about advance care planning. Decisions and discussions about how we would ideally like to die are not easy, and Lois’ project is a step toward making that process easier.
I’ll be returning to this venue this week to co-lead a workshop with Lois and I’m truly looking forward to it.
It was an honor (and also a bit intimidating) to give a keynote address at the International Health Humanities conference at DePaul University. My talk was titled “Mapping Graphic Medicine.” In it I explored several ways to think about maps, and what a rich gift they can be to the work of the health humanities and graphic medicine. The rich discussion that followed, in a room of so many of my colleagues and teachers from the past ten years of work, was a career highlight.
Next great adventure was curating an exhibit and doing a lunch seminar at the Northwestern University Prosthetics & Orthotics Clinic. Everyone at the clinic was engaged and invested in graphic medicine as it applied to the work they do and it was a thrill to explore my work through their lens.