Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)

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"Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" is a collaborative series of twenty acrylic paintings that focuses on electronic communications made between two fictional female characters on the subject of obstetric and gynecologic health care. For this collaborative project, artist, author, and educator Keith Fox has recast fictional dialogs authored by mass communications professor Marie Dick as expressionistic, narrative paintings.

Marie Dick placed value on women’s own accounts of their health by gathering information directly from female layperson patients about their experiences and feelings regarding examinations that they have had and treatments that they have received in obstetric-gynecological clinics. [Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Freemont discuss how the women’s health movement has encouraged the study of the sick role within the discipline of medical sociology by criticizing medicine “for devaluing women’s reports of their own health and well-being.” Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Fremont. “Medical Sociology at the Millennium,” in "Handbook of Medical Sociology". 5th ed. Eds. Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Fremont. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. 3.] While gathering such ethnographic data over a three-year period, she wrote fictional dialogs that take place between two characters who are female layperson patients with the screen names "sheilabug20" and "minnesotafemale_n_ks".

Once each dialog was written, Keith Fox recast it into an acrylic painting that consists of not only highly contrasting colors and patterns, but also fantasy images of computer keyboards and computer mice which suggest that each fictional dialog is being carried out through the wizardry of computerized instant messaging. As a result of the transformation from typed dialogs to acrylic paintings, the text can become slightly illegible.

Inspiration and techniques

During his lecture about the "Gyn Talk" series at the Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island on March 27, 2005, as well as during his lecture during the “Women, Health, and Representation Conference” at the University of New England on June 19, 2004, [On March 27, 2005, Keith Fox gave a slide lecture at the Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island, 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence RI. During his unpublished lecture, titled: “Using Artistic Style to Promote Women’s Self-Empowerment in the Modern Healthcare System,” Keith Fox discussed how he and Marie Dick had collaborated together to create the Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction) series of paintings which had been shown in the Jewish Community Center’s Gallery 401 during the month of January 2005. Previously, on June 19, 2004, Keith Fox presented his individual conference, unpublished paper titled “How Artistic Style Might Promote Women’s Self-Empowerment in the Modern Healthcare System” during the “Women, Health, and Representation Conference” sponsored by the Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England Libraries at the Westbrook College Campus of the University of New England. His discussion, which took place during the session "Art, Women’s Empowerment, and the Modern Healthcare System", coincided with an exhibition of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series in the Art Gallery of the University of New England from June 2 to July 3, 2004.] Keith Fox has stated that his inspiration for the slight illegibility of the text in the paintings is the traditional German folk art known in German as "fraktur" that was practiced prior to the industrial revolution by German immigrants, i.e., the Pennsylvania Dutch, living in Pennsylvania. This traditional art form of the Pennsylvania Dutch is named "fraktur" because the letters have the appearance of fractured or broken typeface. ["American Design: The Pennsylvania Germans. Slide & Guide Slidesets". Chicago: Society for Visual Education, 1972. Slide number 15.] Because of the slight illegibility of the text in the paintings, viewers may need to move closer to the paintings if they feel a desire to read the text contained in them.

Once the viewers actually read the text, they will discover that the fictional dialogs authored by Marie Dick are highly-naturalistic: in other words, if the dialogs were read aloud, the spoken words would sound identical to actual women’s conversations. Upon reading the text, the viewer/reader may then feel as though he or she has stumbled upon written transcriptions of overheard discussions.

The Fantasy of the Imagery vs. Realistic Dialogs

While Marie Dick’s fictional conversations are highly-realistic semblances of private women’s talk, Keith Fox has stated in his lectures at the Jewish Community Center and the University of New England that he does not wish for the paintings to visually imitate the appearance of typed conversations being conveyed through electronic media. Rather, his stated goal is to achieve a vague or unreal semblance of computerized, instant messaging. [Instant messaging is an electronic information and communication technology that has its beginnings in 1971 when Murray Turoff invented a computer network for the Office of Emergency Preparedness as a function of the Emergency Management Information Systems and Reference Index (EMISARI). This original messaging system was accessed through Teletype terminals connected to a central computer and was used by the U.S. government until 1986 for the management of emergency situations. At the time, multiple users logged onto a central computer through telephones and could have real-time conversations as they typed on Teletype units. Each user could then see what all of the other users had typed on their Teletype units. These “chats” replaced telephone conferences. There is a distinction made between “chatting” and “instant messaging.” In a “chat,” multiple users can see what all other users type; thus, it is a conversation between more than two people. “Instant messaging,” on the other hand, is a conversation between two people. In "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)", the portrayal of the fictional conversations authored by this mass communications professor always take place between two individuals with the screen names "Minnesotafemale_nks" and "Sheilabug20" and is, therefore, a portrayal of instant messaging rather than a portrayal of chatting. Instant Messaging appeared on the Internet as early as 1988 on America Online as a “buddy list” that allowed customers to know when their friends were also logged onto America Online. The instant-messaging program of America Online grew rapidly. Today, there are several vendors of instant messaging applications. When a user logs onto the simplest form of an instant messaging program, other online users, who are interested in being notified, are alerted. Then users can establish a direct connection to each other from terminal to terminal. The users then type messages to each other, typing their conversations line-by-line, seeing each line of text appear on a message window on the terminal immediately after it has been typed. Gary W. Larson. “Instant Messaging,” in Steve Jones, Ed., "Encyclopedia of New Media: An Essential Reference to Communication and Technology". Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 236-237.]

Simulacrum, Cyborgs, Science Fiction, and Cinema: How the Artist Grapples with Issues that Affect Women and their Health

During his lectures, Keith Fox stated that the reason for his desire to create such an unreal vagueness or simulacrum is because he hopes to suggest that when women converse with each other about reproductive healthcare by means of electronic technology, these women could be metaphorically described as cyborgs. Keith Fox has stated that he took inspiration for such an unusual idea from the artificial life form (i.e., cyborg) or simulacrum in science fiction, fantasy literature, and/or cinema because of an essay written by Donna Haraway titled “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s.” [Donna Haraway. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s.” "Socialist Review" 80.15.2 (March-April, 1985): 65-107. 93.] In her essay, Donna Haraway describes how the science-fiction cyborg monster can provide a theoretical foundation for strategizing in the feminist movement today, in the postindustrial society.

An X-Ray Style is Identified

The style that Keith Fox developed for the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings is possibly linked to Australian aboriginal art in the X-ray style in which internal bodily organs are made visible. [George Chaloupka describes a descriptive style of x-ray art painted on rocks in northern Australia:

In this style the artist depicted the internal features of a subject within its external form. Thus the animals were portrayed not only in their dominant recognizable aspect, generally in profile, but also with their internal organs and bone structure. The human body in this style is usually portrayed with a schematized skeletal form, while inanimate objects, introduced during the historical contact period, such as a rifle, may show the bullet within its breech, and a Macassan kris [Indonesian dagger] is depicted in its sheath.

G. Chaloupka. “Kakadu Rock Art: its Cultural, Historic and Prehistoric Significance,” in "The Rock Art Sites of Kakadu National Park. Some Preliminary Research Findings for their Conservation and Management". Ed. D. Gillespie. Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1983. 1-33. 13.] The artist has stated in his lectures at the Jewish Community Center and the University of New England that he has been told that the iconology of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings, in this case, the fanciful computer mice and keyboards, resemble internal bodily organs or bodily processes. For example, he has been told that the computer mice in "Gyn Talk Number 17" resemble ovaries while the red keys in this same painting suggest red blood cells. Furthermore, he has been told that the computer mice in both "Gyn Talk Number 5" and "Gyn Talk Number 7" are suggestive of spermatozoa, while the large orange computer mouse in "Gyn Talk Number 19" is suggestive of a muscular heart organ. Keith Fox has further stated that these resemblances to human anatomy were not deliberate on his part. In explaining these resemblances, he remembered that in the spring of 1990, while he was a student at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, he had been given a T-shirt purchased in Australia which featured a silk-screened image of a kangaroo interpreted through the Australian Aboriginal X-ray style so that the kangaroo’s alimentary canal and stomach were visible. [For examples of Australian aboriginal art in the X-ray style that are stylistically similar to this kangaroo design, please see the photographic reproductions of the aboriginal bark paintings "Crocodile Hunting Story", ca. 1979, and "Ceremonial Crocodile", ca. 1970, published in "Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia". Peter Sutton, ed. New York: Asia Society Galleries, and Adelaide: South Australian Museum, 1988.] Keith Fox further remembered when he was a student that this image of a kangaroo captured his imagination due to how the X-ray style, that dates back to the late Stone Age, suggests that the artist who uses this style has special vision and can see through things. [Regarding x-ray art in northern Australia, George Chaloupka has written that perhaps the rock paintings in this region of Arnhem Land are highly developed because of the painter’s social status as an inventive person with an astonishing ability to see into the interior of bodies. George Chaloupka. J"ourney in Time: The World’s Longest Continuing Art Tradition". Sydney: Reed, 1993. 104.] Keith Fox further recalled that, as a student in 1990, he tried to emulate the visual culture of Aboriginal Australia (i.e., the X-ray style) in his paintings. While his main focus while working on the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" paintings was to prevent them from looking anything like medical illustrations, Keith Fox stated that he now enjoys reflecting on how he might have unconsciously remembered the artistic lessons that he had learned from a T-shirt sold commercially to tourists in Australia to create his own X-ray iconology that might echo a unique relationship between modern-day scientific practices and prehistoric aboriginal cultures.

Colors, Hues, and Montage: More on the Artist’s Techniques and Goals

While the style of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings may remind some viewers of X-rays, the paintings also function as montages on canvas of voices, ideas, facts, and opinions expressed through highly-contrasting colors and patterns, flowchart symbols, and fantasy images of computer mice and keyboards. According to the theory of montage in film by Sergei Eisenstein, the revolutionary Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, a montage is similar to the traditional Japanese poetic form of haiku in which separate elements are juxtaposed together with the intention that they will combine in the mind of the reader, thus generating a moment of discovery or total meaning that is more important than the sum of the component parts. [Jay Leyda, ed. and trans. "Film Form. Essays in Film Theory". Sergei Eisenstein. 1949. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. 28-32.] During his lectures at the Jewish Community Center and the University of New England, Keith Fox has stated that it is his hope that the separate elements of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" paintings—the voices, ideas, facts, opinions, colors, patterns, flowchart symbols, and fantasy images—will combine in the mind of the viewer/reader to form the following total meaning: When women discuss reproductive physiologic processes with one another through mechanical or electronic devices, such as a sophisticated instant-messaging computer communications program, there is a suggestion of “a breakdown of clean distinctions between organism and machine and similar distinctions structuring the Western self” as described by Donna Haraway in her “Manifesto for Cyborgs.” [Haraway 92-93.]

Patriarchy and Humor: Another Way of Challenging the System

In writing the conversations, Marie Dick has employed a rhetorical use of women’s humor to help audiences to recognize some of the significant failings of Western patriarchal medicine. Indeed, in this humor, it is the thoughts and feelings of female layperson patients that are showcased rather than the thoughts and feelings of authoritative medical doctors and other authoritarian medical professionals. [The medical profession is described as authoritarian by the following three authors. In her article titled “Medicalization: Cultural Concerns,” Margaret Lock writes that social scientists and historians:

[…] argue that from the mid-nineteenth century, with the placement in hospitals for the first time not only of wealthy individuals but of citizens of all classes, the medical profession was able to exert power over passive patients in a way never before possible. This transition, aided by the production of new technologies, has been described as medical ‘imperialism.’ (9535)

In his essay titled “Medicine as an Institution of Social Control,” sociologist Irving Kenneth Zola writes:

The theme of this essay is that medicine is becoming a major institution of social control, nudging aside, if not incorporating, the more traditional institutions of religion and law. It is becoming the new repository of truth, the place where absolute and often final judgments are made by supposedly morally neutral and objective experts. And these judgments are made, not in the name of virtue or legitimacy, but in the name of health. Moreover, this is not occurring through the political power physicians hold or can influence, but is largely an insidious and often undramatic phenomenon accomplished by ‘medicalizing’ much of daily living, by making medicine and the labels ‘healthy’ and ‘ill’ relevant to an ever increasing part of human existence. (487)

In his book, Medical Power and Social Knowledge, Bryan S. Turner writes:

The expansion and development of healthcare delivery systems has consequently brought about a more profound if hidden framework of social regulation in which there is often no court of appeal or system of complaints, unlike the older systems of law and religion. Involuntary hospitalization for the mentally disturbed has been a prominent target of radical criticism in the modern period, but medical social control can take far more subtle and insidious forms. (209)

The term “medicalization,” thus implies that a life-cycle event, such as menopause, is made medical, suggesting that this act of making something medical is inappropriate. Yet, as Margaret Lock points out in her article “Medicalization: Cultural Concerns,” there are circumstances, such as, “in the case of the breast cancer movement,” when “people unite to fight for more effective medical surveillance.” (9536) M [argaret] Lock. “Medicalization: Cultural Concerns,” in "International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences". Eds. Neil J. Smelser, and Paul B. Bates. 26 vols. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001. 14: 9534-9539; 14: 9535; 14: 9536; Irving Kenneth Zola. “Medicine as an Institution of Social Control.” "Sociological Review" 20.11 (1972): 487-504. 487; Bryan S. Turner. "Medical Power and Social Knowledge". London: Sage, 1987. 209.] Any physician or nurse reading the fictional dialogs contained in the twenty paintings is faced with the point of view of the female layperson patient, a point of view that is typically ignored within the hierarchy of power usually found in hospitals and clinics. [See note number 1.]

"Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)": A Form of Minor Literature

On March 27, 2005, during his slide lecture at the Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island, titled “Using Artistic Style to Promote Women’s Self-Empowerment in the Modern Healthcare System,” Keith Fox postulated that the fictional dialogs that Marie Dick has written and named Gyn Talk are a “minor literature.” Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari [Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari. “What is a Minor Literature?” in "Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature". 1975. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota P, 1986. 16-27.] define a minor literature as a language that a minority writer assembles from a major language. As for Marie Dick’s contribution to the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" collaboration, Keith Fox stated that it is his understanding that Marie Dick has authored fictional conversations based in part on interviews that she conducted with layperson patients who are female and who, therefore, are a minority within the authoritarian Western system of medical practice that has historically been predominantly controlled by men. [In an article titled “The Medical Profession,” which focuses on the practice of medicine in English-speaking societies, David Coburn writes that in the 1600s and the 1700s “medicine was a male middle-class enterprise,” that, from 1850 to 1900, the profession of medicine was “composed almost entirely of males,” and that, moreover, in “the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries medicine was overtly sexist, reflecting the patriarchal social structures of the time.” (9524-9525) In their publication titled "Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness", Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English discuss “medical ideas about women” in the time period from 1865 to 1920 in the United States perpetuated by “a male elite with a legal monopoly over medical practice”. (8) Ehrenreich and English also describe how this male-dominated, elitist sexist ideology of the medical system in the United States generally described and treated leisured upper-class woman as being “sick” and the working-class woman as being “potentially sickening to men.” In more recent times, this almost total monopoly by men in the practice of medicine has begun to change. David Coburn writes in his article titled “The Medical Profession” that “beginning in the 1960s, women formed an increasing proportion of the medical school population.” (9526) D [avid] Coburn. “The Medical Profession,” in "International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences". Eds. Neil J. Smelser, and Paul B. Bates. 26 vols. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001. 14: 9523-9530; 14: 9524-9525; 9526. Barbara Ehrenreich, and Deirdre English. "Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness". Old Westbury, NY: Feminist P, 1973. 5; 8.] Keith Fox further explained that it is his understanding that Marie Dick based her fictional conversations on these interviews with layperson female patients, but also used in the fictional conversations the major scientific language composed of medical terminology historically created by men and scientific experts. [Historically, men and scientific experts created the major scientific language of medical terminology. In describing medical knowledge, i.e., the origin of medical terminology, David Coburn describes how in English-speaking societies:

[…] doctors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries claimed authority, not on the basis of science, but because of their gentlemanly status. This authority was underwritten by attendance at elite universities and knowledge in classical learning. (9525)

In further describing the history of medical knowledge and medical power, i.e., the origin of medical terminology as taught in medical schools, David Coburn explains how medicine proclaimed authority in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by associating itself “with the rapidly rising prestige of science.” (9525) D [avid] Coburn. “The Medical Profession,” in "International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences". Eds. Neil J. Smelser, and Paul B. Bates. 26 vols. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001. 14: 9523-9530. 14: 9525.]

According to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, “The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation.” [Deleuze 18.] In other words, the first characteristic of a minor literature is that the language of a group who has a lower class standing within the social and economic hierarchy of a society has been removed from one “territory,” i.e., a position of lesser status, and then placed within a new “territory,” or rather, a position of greater status, authority, prestige, and privilege within the same society.

The second characteristic of a minor literature is that anybody who reads or hears this language that has been raised to a higher social standing is immediately aware that a political boundary has been crossed by that language from a “territory” or position of lesser status to a “territory” or position of higher status.

The third characteristic of a minor literature is that even though the voices from a “territory” of lesser social status who speak this language that has crossed a political boundary may seem to represent only one or two particular individuals from this particular, lower-class social group, the overall general feeling is that the highly-individualized voices that have crossed a political boundary seem to speak for the entire social group that has this lower class standing.

Take Back the Spotlight: From Footnote to Mainstream America

In the case of the series of paintings/dialogues "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)", Keith Fox has theorized that the marginalized territories occupied both by the layperson patient’s body and by women, who historically have been disadvantaged politically, economically, and educationally, have been given the spotlight or preferential treatment rather than left to remain on the sidelines of society. Keith Fox noted that in the American mainstream, women do not always have the same opportunities as men; likewise, layperson patients are typically not allowed to speak about medical matters in public.

Keith Fox commented that the fictional dialogs written by Marie Dick for the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings have been removed from the margins of society to the more favorable position of being showcased in the public forum of art galleries located at colleges, community centers, and a commercial gallery in a shopping district.

Patients’ Control over Their Own Bodies

Keith Fox also observed that when such dialogs appear in the mainstream a political boundary is immediately felt by viewers/readers of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" paintings/dialogs; he further indicated that this political boundary is easily identified by the common phrase: “the doctor knows best;” hence, the patient has no power over the doctor’s orders. Moreover, Keith Fox stated that it is his belief that anyone who reads Marie Dick’s dialogs is immediately aware that the intention of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" paintings is to give patients, especially female patients, greater control over their social, political, and medical situation, as well as to take some of that control away from the scientific experts who apparently too often exercise dictatorial control over female layperson patients in clinics and hospitals.

Additionally, Keith Fox made the observation that the particular fictional voices of the layperson patients that are recorded by the minor literature of "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" seem to speak for the entire social group of layperson patients—not only women, but also men—who are disempowered within the authoritarian Western system of medical practice that is based on scientific evidence.

"Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction):" Art, Feminism, Feminist Art, Computer Technology, Medical Sociology, and Beyond

Because the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings features simple forms, as well as non-natural and bright colors, the paintings may be of interest to art enthusiasts who are interested in the early 20th century art movement of fauvism initiated by a group of French artists, including the French painter and sculptor Henri Matisse (1869-1954). [For a brief, informative definition of the 20th century art movement of "fauvism", please see the following entry. “Fauvism,” in "The Oxford Dictionary of Art". Ian Chilvers, Harold Osborne, and Dennis Farr, eds. 1988. Oxford: OUP, 1994. 176.]

Furthermore, because the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings include visual distortions of reality for the sake of creating an emotional impact on the audience, the paintings may be of interest to art enthusiasts who are interested in expressionism in visual art. [For a brief, informative definition of the art term "expressionism" as used in the field of the fine art of painting, please see the following entry. “Expressionism,” in "The Oxford Dictionary of Art". Ian Chilvers, Harold Osborne, and Dennis Farr, eds. 1988. Oxford: OUP, 1994. 171-172.]

Moreover, because of the fantastic imagery that can be found in the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings, i.e., the unusual depictions of computer mice and keyboards that sometimes resemble internal bodily organs in the manner of Australian aboriginal art in the X-ray style, the paintings may be of interest to art enthusiasts who are interested in the early 20th century movement in art and literature known as surrealism. [For a brief, informative definition of the 20th century movement in art and literature known as "surrealism", please see the following entry. “Surrealism,” in "The Oxford Dictionary of Art". Ian Chilvers, Harold Osborne, and Dennis Farr, eds. 1988. Oxford: OUP, 1994. 482-483.]

Additionally, due to how the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings reflects women’s lives and experiences, the paintings may be of interest to art enthusiasts who are interested in feminist art. [For a brief, informative definition of the term "feminist art", please see the following entry: “Feminist Art,” in "The Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History". Nancy Frazier. 2000. New York: Penguin, 2001. 235-236.]

Beyond the field of the fine arts, the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings has connections to other fields of endeavor. For example, because of the emphasis placed on how laywomen can increase their knowledge of health care practices from one another through conversation, rather than only from talking to medical professionals in clinics, the series of paintings is related to the grass-roots organizations of the Women’s Health Movement of the 1960s and 1970s; hence, this series may possibly be of interest to historians of the Women’s Health Movement in the United States. [Please see the following article for a concise summary of the women’s health movement in the United States and how the grass-roots women’s health organizations of the 1960s and 1970s differ from the professional women’s health organizations of the 1990s. Sheryl Burt Ruzek. “The Women’s Health Movement from the 1960s to the Present, and Beyond,” paper presented at "The History and Future of Women's Health, June 11, 1998, a seminar sponsored by the Office on Women's Health and the PHS (United States Public Health Service) Coordinating Committee on Women's Health". Available online at: . (Information retrieved June 15, 2008).]

Because the general content of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series concerns the social structure of obstetric and gynecological clinics, the series of paintings may possibly be of interest to medical sociologists. [According to "The On-Line Medical Dictionary", medical sociology is “the study of the social determinants and social effects of health and disease, and of the social structure of medical institutions or professions.” Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Freemont list five contributions that the discipline of medical sociology has made to social science research. The first contribution is the study of medicine as a profession. The second contribution is the study of the sick role. The third contribution is the study of the social construction of both illness and medical knowledge. The fourth contribution is the study of the social patterning of illness or the distribution of illness in the population (i.e., sociological epidemiology). The fifth contribution is the sociological study of hospitals as complex social organizations. (2) In an article titled “The Medical Profession,” which focuses on the practice of medicine in English-speaking societies, David Coburn writes that in the past, social scientists “were asked to help understand why some patients did not ‘comply with’ medical regimes.” Now, David Coburn writes that social science has “begun to undermine medical authority through challenging the biomedical paradigm, through its focus on medical power and self-interests, and for its support of the view that health is determined more by social factors than it is by health care.” “Sociology, Medical.” "The On-Line Medical Dictionary": . (Information retrieved August 2, 2006). Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Fremont. “Medical Sociology at the Millennium,” in "Handbook of Medical Sociology". 5th ed. Eds. Chloe E. Bird, Peter Conrad, and Allen M. Fremont. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. 1-10. 2. D [avid] Coburn. “The Medical Profession,” in "International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences". Eds. Neil J. Smelser, and Paul B. Bates. 26 vols. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001. 14: 9523-9530; 14: 9525-9526.]

By focusing attention on the authoritarian aspects of Western medicine, in particular on how such medical authoritarianism impacts female layperson patients in obstetric and gynecologic clinics, the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series functions as a study of ethical decisions that are made in the general medical treatment of female layperson patients. As such, the series may be of interest to bioethicists. [According to "Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary", bioethics is “a discipline dealing with the ethical implications of biological research and applications especially in medicine.” "Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary": . (Information retrieved June 15, 2008).]

The iconology of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series portrays electronic information and communication technology. Therefore, the series may be of interest to persons who are enthusiastic about the use of technology, especially computing, and by how computer technology is changing the structure of society.

Finally, because the overall design and conception of the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series reshuffles the problems encountered in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology so that these problems are arranged in a new manner, the series may possibly be of interest to creative thinkers. The Maltese psychologist and physician Edward de Bono (1933-), who is a prolific writer on and consultant in creative thinking as a skill, advocates such a type of thinking that is not logical, linear, and sequential, for which he has coined the term “lateral thinking.” [Edward de Bono. "Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas". New York: Harper Collins, 1992. 53; Edward de Bono. "Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step". 1970. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. 51.]

"Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)": History of Exhibition

In April 2008, a group of New England artists who call themselves The Ceruleans held a group exhibit titled Rhapsody in Blue at AS220, a non-profit community arts center located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, and included in this exhibition the painting "Gyn Talk Number 4" in part because the color scheme of this painting is predominantly blue.

In October and November 2006, the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings was exhibited in Hope Gallery, 435 Hope Street, Bristol, RI.

In January 2005, the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings was exhibited in Gallery 401, The Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island, 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence RI.

In June 2004, the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings was exhibited in the Art Gallery on the Westbrook College Campus of the University of New England, Portland, ME, as part of the “Women, Health, and Representation Conference, an Interdisciplinary Academic Conference” sponsored by the Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England Libraries.

In January and February 2004, ten paintings from the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings were exhibited in the Display Cases outside of the Bannister Gallery, 124 Roberts Hall, Rhode Island College, Providence RI.

In July 2003, one painting from the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings was exhibited as part of the Summer Faculty Exhibition, Woods Gerry Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI. This painting was "Gyn Talk Number 10".

In January 2003, three paintings from the "Gyn Talk (Visual Fiction)" series of paintings were exhibited as part of a mixed media group show at the Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan St., Fall River MA. These paintings were Gyn Talk Number 2, "Gyn Talk Number 7", and "Gyn Talk Number 10".

Biography of Marie Dick

In the field of mass communications, Marie Dick’s areas of research interest are health communication, critical and cultural media studies, and scientific communication. Marie Dick is currently teaching in the Department of Mass Communications at Saint Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, Minnesota. In 2004, Marie Dick earned her doctorate in health communication from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. In her Master of Arts thesis at Wichita State University, "This is Women’s Territory: A Rhetorical Analysis of Four Feminist Dynamics in "Steel Magnolias"," [Marie Louise Dick. “This is Women’s Territory: A Rhetorical Analysis of Four Feminist Dynamics in Steel Magnolias.” M.A. thesis, Wichita State U, 1995.] Marie Dick analyzes the rhetorical use of women’s humor in the script written by Robert Harling for this 1987 Off-Broadway play that was made into a successful film in 1989. In this analysis, Marie Dick investigates how female humor can be used to help audiences to recognize some significant failings of Western patriarchal society. Additionally, as the setting of this dramatic work is a beauty salon, Marie explores how this setting can be compared to historical salons whereby people would gather to increase their knowledge through conversation.

Biography of Keith Fox

Keith Fox received the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the degree Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In the field of the fine art of painting, Keith Fox’s areas of research interest are narrative painting, concrete poetry (or pattern poetry), modernist folk art, conceptual art, expressionism, color theory, abstraction, semiotics, and composition. As a lecturer, Keith Fox is currently teaching drawing, two-dimensional design, and color theory in the Department of Art at the Community College of Rhode Island. As a continuing education instructor, Keith Fox is currently teaching courses in the fine art of painting in the Department of Continuing Education at the Rhode Island School of Design. Additionally, Keith Fox teaches studio workshops at the South County Art Association, Kingston, Rhode Island. In 1989 and 1990, Keith Fox authored two educational articles for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s youth organization 4-H in Wisconsin. In 1993, for his Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Keith Fox exhibited mixed media paintings, screen prints, wood engraving prints, and woodcut prints. Defying neat categorization, the thesis exhibit consisted of a variety of styles put together, such as surrealism, pop art, abstract expressionism, and traditional folk arts, such as quilting and the Pennsylvania Dutch calligraphy known in German as "fraktur". In 1996, Keith Fox’s painting “A Free Speech Motif, Number 11” was added to the ART-TO-GO Collection for free loan to Library cardholders at the Iowa City Public Library. (Image of “A Free Speech Motif, Number 11” available online on the Library’s website under the year 1996 at: . (Information retrieved August 4, 2008)). In 1999, Keith Fox participated in the group exhibition "Seeing Money: A Unique Art Event of Uncommon Currency" in Portland, Oregon. Also, in 1999, Keith Fox had a solo painting show in Lisbon, Portugal, titled "Abstractions and Semiabstractions", at the bookstore "Bulhosa Livreiros". In 2000, Keith had a solo art exhibit at the "Museum of Work, Michel Giacometti/Museu do Trabalho, Michel Giacometti", in Setúbal, Portugal. (A Portuguese-language website about the Museum is available at: . (Information retrieved August 4, 2008)). Three of his acrylic paintings are now owned by the "Museum of Work", Portugal, and a copy of his bilingual (Portuguese-English) Museum catalog/artist monograph "The Phantasmagoria of a Shopper. Retrospective. 1994-1996", has been acquired by Columbia University Library and the Getty Research Institute Research Library of the J. Paul Getty Museum. This catalog/artist monograph includes a review of Keith Fox’s paintings written by Fernando Antonio Baptista Pereira and four brief essays written by Keith Fox.

Notes

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