Q1 Reflection

Now that it’s the end of the quarter, here is a reflection on my independent study progress so far!


So far, I have learned so much about the history and field of medical illustration. I have learned about prominent medical illustrators who have defined the field such as Vesalius during the Renaissance, and I have talked with a present day medical illustrator, Dr. Francois Luks, about how to go about merging art and medicine and applying medical illustration in education and patient communication. I have also practiced creating my own medical illustrations and chosen to explore the brain in depth in my research and illustrations. I am so inspired by the medical illustrations I have come across in my research, which make me see the body in a completely new light and inspire me when thinking about creating my own illustrations.  


I am really enjoying exploring a topic that is so specific and interesting to me and being able to take my exploration in exactly the direction I want. Even though this is definitely a challenge because it is completely unlike any other class, I am learning about the strategies that work best for me as a learner. For instance, I am most productive and motivated if I set out time to work at the very beginning of the week before I’m caught up in the work for all of my other classes. I feel like the past two weeks have been the most challenging period for my independent study so far. Not only is it the end of the quarter and I have major assessments in every single class, but I also have multiple college applications due on November 1st, which is a completely different and stressful experience than anything else I’ve had to do.

Looking ahead

As I have worked on my study, I have figured out what topics interest me most, which is shaping what I plan to dive into more specifically in the weeks to come and has shifted from what I originally planned to do. I originally wanted to examine the effects of opioids on the brain. I know I am still definitely interested in the brain, but after researching and practicing medical illustration, I think I’m now interested in exploring and illustrating learning disabilities in the brain. I think this could be an interesting way to merge a relevant topic about the brain with illustrations to benefit others. I have dyslexia, and I was only diagnosed with it at the end of Sophomore year, and part of what has been so important for me is understanding dyslexia on a deeper level and how it interacts with my brain. So, I think that illustrating learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia and even ADHD could help people understand their own brains better. So, I would like to create a pamphlet or a little illustration book for people and even kids to learn about learning disabilities through pictures.

A new question I have is, how can I best describe learning disabilities through illustrations to help people better understand them?   

One thought to “Q1 Reflection”

  1. It’s fascinating to see how your interests are evolving, Alex. As I’m sure you’re aware, learning disabilities are a fertile field for contemporary research. The number (and percent) of cases is on the rise. At DA, the number increases by year and by grade level; at present, about 25% of our students are identified by the time they are seniors. Some wonder if this is a “true” figure; are there precise standards being consistently applied? Others wonder we are learning to look more deeply at the brain and discovering ever more variation in its functioning. Are the brains “disabled” or are the education and testing systems too rigid to accommodate the natural range?
    I look forward to learning from your illustrations.

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