The Gross Lab

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

In THE GROSS LAB, you will find rows and rows of cadavers. Many people would consider this an apt description of the “icky” things found here. But this is not what the “gross” refers to. Rather, gross is used to refer to the large or macroscopic sense of the body to which medical students are introduced, (alongside microscopic anatomy) that is a hallmark of the life of a first year medical student. Enter into this lab, Michael Grimaldi. Michael is an artist who founded a devoted to the artistic depiction of the human anatomy. Much like Leonardo Da Vinci 500 plus years ago, Thomas Eakins strove to depict the human form with an unprecedented accuracy, and both used the deceased as subjects for study. Michael, working with The Gross Anatomy Lab at Drexel College of Medicine, continues this tradition, which is actually closer to Eakins in 19th century Philadelphia than Florence during the Renaissance. While modern study has much better tools (HD flat screen study aides and halogen lighting as opposed to books and gas lights, and donated cadavers rather than bodies from robbed graves), at the heart of the experience, the human form remains the same as does the desire to connect with other people, whether they are present or have passed, both through science and through the ancient tools of art.

Web Extra: The Human Body

Art and Medical Students from Drexel’s Gross Anatomy Lab get to spend intimate amounts of time with cadavers as they study the human body. The more they study it and observe the structure and composition of the body, their interest has grown to admiration and fascination, seeing the body in a whole new light and appreciation. Edited by Michelle Saul-Yamasaki.

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