In her sculpture work, Anne Mondro has created a captivating metaphor for the close-knit relationships between medical patients and their caregivers. The artist uses a crochet hook and tinned copper wire to construct realistic 3D models of the heart, representing the human pulse—both literal and physical—within the healthcare system.
The project’s inspiration dates back to 2006, when Mondro first developed a course called Retaining Identity as a professor at the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design. The class matched students with persons with dementia via the U-M Geriatric Center, encouraging the artists to consider the ways that creativity might provide an empowering, enlivening balm during times of illness. Over the ensuing years, Mondro has witnessed many tender relationships between the memory loss patients and their caregivers, and she explains, “When you care for a loved one, the two of you become intertwined. You take on their vulnerabilities but also their strengths. As I thought about that relationship, it was important that these forms be tied together somehow.”
Mondro spent a year researching the anatomy of the heart at the U-M anatomy lab and investigating its structure using 3D modeling before her July 2015 residency at the Icelandic Textile Center, where she began building her sculptures. The final pieces are both scientific and symbolic, suggesting that heartfelt humanity is the connective thread—or, in this case, the connective wire—in both medical caregiving and art creation.
All images via Stamps School of Art and Design.