Surfing online, I came across this great work by 20-something Becky Stern. It is an embroidery from an MRI of her kneecap. On her website I found earrings she made out of Vicodin, a plush stuffed animal-like version of her femur, and a copper band aid. I was captivated and interviewed her a bit more about her art.
Q: What medium do you like to work in the most? A: I don’t have a favorite medium. I tend to prefer craft processes, but also dabble in electronics.
Q: What subject matter fascinates you? A: I’m really interested in our relationships with technology. A lot of my work draws this. I also think it’s really neat how low tech things like knitting can relate to digital images (stitches and pixels, etc.).
Q: So what was up with your leg? Why did you have surgery? A: I have bad genetic knee anatomy. My shallow femur grooves mean that my kneecaps dislocate a lot. This time it took out a piece of cartilage with it. It felt like there were shards of glass inside my knee before the surgery.
Q: Some people would be grossed out by pics of their surgery. Seems like you are not. Have you always had a strong stomach? A: My first knee surgery was when I was 8. I had another when I was 14. So I guess you could say it grew on me. I’ve never liked it when doctors could see parts of my body that I couldn’t, so I just ask them for a copy of my MRIs, x-rays, surgery pictures, etc. I even have my wisdom teeth and knee screws (that had to be removes) in an envelope. The pictures from this last one do gross me out a little bit, but I like to play on the grossness factor a bit in my work. The plush femur is cute and at the same time gross. Q: Do you plan to make other medically related pieces? A: I’ve been working on a series of embroideries from my MRI images, and I’ve made some band-aid earrings as well as some earrings made from my leftover Vicodin tablets (I can’t take the stuff, it turns out it makes me sick). What about you guys reading this post? Do you ever have daydreams, real schemes, or actual artwork, plays, films, sculptures that you’ve made about your illness? Have you seen other illness related artwork that has stayed in your mind? Any work by young adult cancer patients?