In my current body of artwork, I have committed myself to studying and researching the life and scientific work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Recently, I have had the opportunity to view some of his drawings that are currently on display at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. The exhibit, curated by NINDS Senior Investigator, Jeffery Diamond, Ph. D., features six samples of Cajal's original drawings, on loan from El Instituto Cajal.
I have had the opportunity to visit the works twice, and during each visit, I spent several hours drawing his drawings. Seeing Cajal's original drawings in person is extraordinary. The works are much, much more than anatomical recordings. The line quality of his work is descriptively delicate: refined, sensitive and elegant, like other great masters - Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, etc. Half of the works on display were created in a straight forward manner with ink. By that I mean, it is evident he did not draw those particular works out in pencil prior to adding the ink. His level of skill and mastery allowed him to draw and develop an entire concept or observation with ink. This means, there was no erasing. What careful, thoughtful and remarkable precision in his recordings of the contours and qualities of the neurons.
The exhibit at the NIH has taken my understanding of Cajal to a new level. Below, I am posting some photos of the exhibition on display at the NIH and my studies of Cajal's drawings.
When viewing my studies of Cajal's work below, bear in mind, I approached them in the same manner as Cajal: with ink and no erasing. My work in comparison to Cajal's, however, is flawed with some proportion, linear and scale issues. While they may not be a prefect mirror of the master's work, I have learned a great deal from the process of creating them.
I feel so fortunate and I am thankful to all of the efforts put forth by Dr. Diamond and the El Instituto of Cajal in bringing these highly important drawings to the United States. I look forward to studying these works more in the future.