By Meghan McCarter
This issue’s cover art has a long and not entirely flattering history. To be entirely honest, there is a creepy little attention seeker inside of me that simply craved the profane pleasure of driving home from school with a human skeleton riding shotgun. While it’s true that preparing this composition provided myriad perverse delights, the governing impetus to create a life-size rendering of the skeletal system dates back to the beginning of my senior year of high school, when I chose to build my AP art portfolio around the theme “Flesh and Blood.”
This piece represents my attempt to discuss the physiological implications of this idiom: flesh and blood, an interest that grew out of my profound regard for the human body. I have always loved looking at humans, looking closely; the deeper I go, the more fascinating they become. However, I think that the way we view our insides needs a PR makeover. Historically, the imagery surrounding our flesh and blood has been alienating, due either to unsettling gore or academic sterility. We’ve been offered memento mori or anatomy theatre, slasher porn or textbooks. The result of that conditioning is an unnecessary squeamishness. We’re taught to “love ourselves” but we tend to balk at the nuts and bolts of how we actually work. Talk about a body image issue. I believe loving yourself includes loving your own gross-ology.
I aim to demystify and revel in not only the workings of the human body, but also in the active study of it. In a time when looking at the inside of a person doesn’t require their violent demise, I encourage people to look inward in a very literal sense. As I have been reminded by every art history class I have ever taken, imagery is a powerful force in establishing an idea. I want people to love themselves, so I try to contribute to a canon of images that speaks to the fundamental beauty of the body.
They say the best way to become comfortable in your own skin is to spend more time naked. So this is me making us all a little more naked and a little more beautiful. Admittedly this goal is a little lofty, but I am passionate about accustoming people to the idea that their bodies are not just points of sale, not just casings. Spirit gone, man is not garbage. We are not garbage. We are flesh and blood.
About the Artist
Meghan McCarter is an undergraduate at Northwestern University and the artist of this edition’s cover of the NPHR.