Portraiture is an art genre that has classically been defined as an artist painting or creating the likeness of the subject of the portrait. This is usually achieved by depicting the features of the person that everyone sees - the outside of their body. Angela Palmer’s work, consisting of both self-portraits and general portraits, challenges the notion of the portrait by depicting the inside of the body. Each portrait is created by drawing or engraving the resulting details of MRI and CT scans of the subject onto glass sheets. The portrait is built up layer by layer on multiple sheets, creating a subject that can be viewed only from certain angles. From above and from the side, the image vanishes and the viewer is left to contemplate space.
Angela Palmer has stated that her concept for this series of works has developed from a love of maps. By marrying medical technology with her artistic practice, she has managed to visualize the ‘inner anatomical architecture’ of the human body, revealing the intimate structures that make up the outer features that typical portraiture depicts. It also allows for fascinating contemplation of the human body itself, showing what is going on beneath the surface on both a functional and psychological level. Angela’s work has also been used for the benefit of science and history, using her concept to scan the and recreate the body of a 2000-year-old Egyptian child mummy without removing his wrappings. The scans even allowed doctors to determine that the little boy had probably died of pneumonia, due to a thickening of his lung. The resulting work is on 111 sheets of glass, and is displayed next to the boy himself in the Ashmolean Museum Collection in Egypt.
To read the artist statement, which includes more information about Angela’s work, click here.