Exquisite Corpse: A contemporary marriage of art and anatomy

Elisa Crossing (ANU)
2017 Conference

As universities are encouraging more creative interdisciplinary collaborations in teaching and research it is timely to reflect on how the contribution of the visual arts and design practitioners is valued in such pairings. The distinction between the senses and thinking outlined in Rudolf Arnheim’s “A Plea for Visual Thinking” provides the historical background to a longstanding educational bias that privileges and esteems reason over the senses, and by extension, the sciences over the arts.

This paper discusses a new contemporary approach to interdisciplinary teaching for a traditional pairing of Art and Anatomy, one that resists any notion of a marriage of convenience, in which the arts merely serve to illustrate the knowledge of sciences, but one designed to enhance medical and visual art students’ appreciation of both disciplines.

I outline the nature of the collaboration with the School of Biology and the way theory and practice are delivered in the studio and anatomy laboratories and suggest that deep knowledge and original thinking derive from practice-led research and that the value the visual arts bring to other fields is the knowledge of how to cultivate both reason and intuition.

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About the author

Elisa Crossing is a practicing visual artist and has exhibited painting, drawing and installation nationally. She is a sessional lecturer in Painting and Foundation Studies at the ANU School of Art and Design and teaches for the ANU Medical School in the new intensive course The Exquisite Corpse. She was born in Canberra and received a BA in Painting and Philosophy and is currently a PhD candidate in Painting. Her research interests are meta-painting, materials and processes, vision and perception, colour theory and life drawing. In recent years her paintings of architectural interiors explore the poetic depiction of space, drawing on various historical influences from early Indian and Mughal painting through to Velázquez, Vermeer and Hopper.