Passion of a Surgeon

Passion of a Surgeon

This series in bronze and marble is about the life of an academic surgeon and deals with teaching, patient care, research, and ultimately retirement. It purposely has some religious overtones in that I have always looked upon neurosurgery as a mission, not as a business. Indeed the mission of neurosurgery is quite lofty: to heal the sick, make the blind see (pituitary tumors; orbital meningiomas), the deaf hear (acoustic neuromas; auditory brain stem implants), and the lame walk (spinal discs and tumors). Thus the background is from the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) in the shape of presumed tablets of the ten commandments of Moses and the foreground from the New Testament done in a style reminiscent of the Passion of the Christ as seen in the stations of the cross on the walls of a Catholic Church. He is whipped and cut, he falls and is consoled by the women, on Golgotha there is a moment of belief and disbelief, and finally after death, there is a rebirth or resurrection.

TEACHING: The first bronze is entitled “First Cut” and recalls the moment a senior surgeon put a scalpel in my hand and guided me to make a cut into human flesh for the very first time. This teaching event is seared into my memory and is one of the first steps in the making of a surgeon.

PATIENT CARE: The second bronze entitled “Consoling” shows the two hands of the surgeon holding a hand of a patient after the operation as he explains how the surgery went and what will happen next.

RESEARCH: The third bronze is “Believing” and shows two hands holding up a Petri Dish (the image is also reminiscent of the priest holding up a communion wafer). People often say that “Seeing is Believing” but in reality in both art and in science the believing comes first. For example, I believed that viruses could be genetically engineered to kill cancer cells years before we could have others see the possibility of oncolytic viruses which are now in clinical use for cancer therapy. Similarly, the sculptures on this website were only in my mind many months or years before anyone could actually see them.

RETIREMENT: The fourth, reminiscent of rebirth or resurrection, is purposely done in white marble from West Rutland, Vermont. At some point, a surgeon must stop operating. Most surgeons fear this moment. In some it leads to depression. Many put if off as long as possible…sometimes too long and have to be told to stop. But this change in life should not be feared in that many of the same skills acquired by the surgeon over decades can be applied to other areas…for me, one such area is sculpting.

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