"When I create a piece of fine art, I am seeking to haptically understand my subject and build that relation with others."
Darian Goldin Stahl is an American printmaker and bookmaker based in Montreal, Canada. She is currently enrolled in the PhD Humanities program at Concordia University in Montreal. Her thesis project, “Lived Scans: Aesthetic Phenomenological Encounters with MRI Scans and the Patient Experience,” was awarded the prestigious Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship.
Darian employs research-creation methods to investigate how a haptic engagement with a person’s own medical scans can restore a sense of agency over the medicalized body, and in turn, change the way a doctor views her patient from a representative object into irreducible subject.
"Working with my hands to craft shareable objects and spaces helps me with my research because my topic centers on embodied experiences of illness, which can be better imparted through the body itself than verbal expression alone. Within arts-based inquiry, we cannot separate thinking and doing. When we make art, thinking is creation, and the resulting object is the material of thought. Approaching learning in this hands-on way values communicative power of fine art and speech as worthy of equal evaluation."
She employs visual metaphors to better represent what it is like to live with chronic illness on a daily basis. To this end, she combines signifiers of illness (such as MRI scans and hospital gowns) with sound, light, aromatic oils, and skin impressions to create immersive psychological snapshots of the patient’s mind while she is being scanned in the hospital. This research-creation project is a collaborative cycle of informing and reconstructing illness identity, with the aim of advancing the field of medical humanities and fostering a more empathetic relationship between medical practitioners and their patients.
"Whether it is through pressing my body into charcoal paper to leave a fleshy trace, crafting an artist’s book that combines word and image, or constructing architectural spaces, I aim for audiences to identify with this work and co-create its meaning in mutuality. This multiplicity and expansion of meaning is at the core of experiential learning in the fine arts."
Watch a demo of Darian's creative process in action in the video below.