Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The art of Laura Olear

Laura Olear
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Viruses and Bacteria series

Artist’s statement
We live in an age of profound advances in health and medicine, yet there has never been a wider gap between objective and perceptive health. I am interested in the ways in which many people dissociate themselves from their bodies and health, while others focus fixatedly on them. The twin phenomena of hypochondria and health-ism represent extremes of behavior in the spectrum of health perception. These extremes reflect the obsessions of culture and society.

Sensationalistic, inflammatory coverage of “diseases in the news” has capitalized on the fears of our health obsessed culture. Fueled by this coverage, conditions affecting a relative few take on disproportionate dimensions, while serious public health threats continue to take their toll. There is a curious discrepancy between coverage given to the hot, new disease of the week (MRSA, Bird Flu, SARS) and the lack of mention of diseases which continue to afflict millions, but which make for less exciting news (HIV, TB, Malaria). Medical ethics meets the politics of funding with bizarre consequences.

My paintings are based on electron micrographs of viruses and bacteria. Demystification and educated awareness are my primary goals in visualizing the microscopic. By visualizing the microscopic, I exercise control over the seemingly uncontrollable, separating phobia from aesthetic experience. With these paintings I hope to explore the interaction between Beauty and Fear.

Visit Laura Olear’s website

LAURA OLEAR received her MFA in Painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design and her BFA in Painting and Drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been painting, drawing, curating, framing, teaching and medical illustrating for over 20 years. She has been featured in exhibits locally and nationally. For more information visit Laura’s website, lauraolear.com.

Highlighted in Frontispiece Volume 1, Issue 2 – Winter 2009

Winter 2009



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