Fusing my sister’s MRI scans with my own bodily impressions
Sisters Devan Stahl (left) and Darian Goldin Stahl (right).
My works concentrate on the complex emotions that accompany a medical diagnosis of chronic illness and the status of our fallible bodies. I am most interested in the psychological impact of what is revealed by internal medical scans. I aim to express the affect of these scans by bringing them to the skin’s surface to re-humanize their anonymous and alienating qualities.
This artwork is a collaborative process with my sister, Devan Stahl, who is a PhD candidate in Bioethics and has multiple sclerosis. I incorporate her magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, in which the inner anatomy is translated into black and white images of the brain and spine. Next, I join these scans with surface impressions of my own skin, which are created by pressing my body into charcoaled paper. The translation through printmaking breaks down the imagery and adds a scan-like graininess to the prints. The works are ultimately printed into film, which recalls the original MRI scan material.
My bodily impressions are created passively, without anticipating the finished image or making any alterations by my hand. Working this way, my body is separated from my mind; likewise, my sister’s MRI scans reveal bright spots without regard to her mind’s wishes. The union of our “scans” creates an ethereal, semi-transparent figure. I then place this apparition within domestic spaces or lying in seas of grey to evoke the MRI scans’ aura. The resulting pieces depict a figure that is ghostly, pulled apart, or monstrous—qualities that point to the tension she feels with her body.
I hope that viewers will identify with this figure, and come to find that we all carry anxiety about the functionality of our bodies and, more broadly, our mortality. Although the motivation behind my work is to depict living with MS, disability is an experience that crosses all ethnicities, genders, and classes. Impairment is an experience we all have, either in the short-term breaking of a bone, long-term illness, or the breakdown of our bodies through aging. When audiences see my work, even though they do not know my sister, they feel her and are filled with a shared, connecting reflection over the state of our ever-failing bodies.
Darian Goldin Stahl
Darian Goldin Stahl
Darian Goldin Stahl is a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking candidate at the University of Alberta. She has been a primary instructor at the U of A in printmaking and fundamentals. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at Indiana University Bloomington in 2007. Her research includes living with chronic illness and anxiety over the failing body. Darian has exhibited in numerous galleries around the world, including Colorado, Ottawa, Alberta, British Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Boston, Slovakia, Egypt, and China.
Event title: HABITUS by Darian Goldin Stahl, MFA printmaking final visual presentation
Exhibition dates: February 24 to March 21, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Venue: FAB Gallery (1-1 Fine Arts Building, University of Alberta)
FAB Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday and statutory holidays