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Laura Ferguson

Laura Ferguson
(b. 1947, New York City) is a New York artist who explores the connections between art and medicine through the imagery of her own body. Her interest in anatomy comes out of her own experience of scoliosis, a deformity of the spine. She began by making drawings from her own X-rays.
Reclining Figure with Visible Skeleton
Mixed Media on Handmade Paper,
10” x 12”
2004
BIO
Laura Ferguson (b. 1947, New York City) is a New York artist who explores the connections between art and medicine through the imagery of her own body. Her interest in anatomy comes out of her own experience of scoliosis, a deformity of the spine. She began by making drawings from her own X-rays. As her interest grew, she took a scientifically rigorous approach to the depiction of anatomical structures, studying anatomy from a dance perspective and collaborating with orthopedists and radiologists to have medical images of her body made solely for the purpose of art. Her work has been exhibited widely, at venues including Noho, DTW, and Woodward Galleries in New York City; the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C.; the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD; the Museum of Science in Boston; and the Chicago Cultural Center. Her work is represented in the collections of the National Library of Medicine, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

THE ART
Ferguson uses an elaborate technique to create her multilayered drawings, as with this piece, “Reclining Figure with Visible Skeleton.” Thinned oil paints, blended with bronze powders, are sprinkled onto the water’s surface, where they spread out into patterns. The floating image is transferred to paper, and the process is repeated as many as 20 or 30 times, as translucent layers of color and texture are slowly added. This paper then becomes the foundation on which a figurative image is drawn with charcoal, pastel, and oil crayon. The transparent layers suggest or reveal those aspects of life that lie beneath the surface.

The resulting works are dreamy, sensual images of the disabled female body. Ferguson uses medical imagery to reveal the mystery of the body, turning clinical language upside down and almost literally inside out.