Category Archives: art

Health for Sale at Philly Museum of Art



The exhibition “Health for Sale” currently at the Philadelphia Museum illustrates the story of commercial medicine through an intriguing collection of posters hawking nostrums, panaceas and health advice in a time before the FDA meddled in such things.There’s more than 50 pieces featuring alabaster skinned beauties seeking anemia cures, virile men donning electro-galvanic belts, families posed in health-giving underwear, bears swigging cough syrup, the spectral figure of Tuberculosis knocking at the door on Christmas Eve. It’s closing in July, so get there soon. And while there, you must of course drop in at the Mütter Museum. Thanks to Abraham Schroeder for alerting us to the to the show.

Caution: Children on Fire


Pictures of burning children always catch our attention. Particularly old-timey pictures of burning kids like this one from She Walks Softly. Turns out, this one is a little too good to be true, as it’s not the vintage advertisement for some the kooky product it purports to be, but the work of contemporary designer and illustrator Christian Northeast.


Even though I’d seen this marshmallow roast gone terribly wrong before, I’d assumed it was mere Photoshop trickery, so was surprised to learn these are genuine flesh-and-blood children staging a pyrotechnic stunt for reality TV show pilot. The kids are part of a family of stunt professionals headed by TK TK Dunn, and have performed in many movies including Catwoman, X-Men II, and Scary Movie, and others. No word was to whether the pilot ever sold


Cigarette cards were the bubblegum cards of their Edwardian day.  It seems fitting that a cigarette manufacture should produce instructional material on fire safety, though this was only one in a series of hundreds of unrelated to the dangers or ill-effects of smoking, so it would be a bit of a presumptuous to conclude this was offered as a sort of product warning.


The final word in burning children art would have to come from the pen of early German psychiatric pioneer Heinrich Hoffman, who in 1845 created both verse and illustration for his collection of cautionary tales for children Der Struwwelpeter, translated for American audiences by Mark Twain as Slovenly Peter.  Peter, a child whose grooming habits were wildly out of control, was one of a host counter-exemplary children, which also included the tale of naughty Pauline (pictured here) whose fascination with matches ends badly despite the best advice of her cats.


Hoffman’s “The Dreadful Story About Matches” was later republished in many editions, sometimes with different illustrations such as this one featuring an older Pauline no longer toting doll and perhaps already on the verge of puberty, a state some scholars have associated with the graphic decision to move the fire from its original location on the child’s back to the more suggestive position shown here.

British cabaret band, The Tiger Lillies retells “The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches” in their Struwelpeter-inspired album Shockheaded Peter,  which provided the soundtrack for an off-Broadway stage production of the same name.

The poem has even inspired Rammstein in their song “Hilf mir,” which loosely retells this story well known to their native German audiences.

June 4: Art of Bleeding’s Hospital Clown


This Saturday, June 4, The Art of Bleeding will present a living (but in critical condition) art piece: “The Hospital Clown” at the Hive’s “Circus Circus” themed show.  The installation will be up throughout the night.

Further info on the show provided by The Hive

The Hive Gallery Group show and Performances-
“CIRCUS, CIRCUS” Themed show
June 4th, 8PM-12:30AM
$8 at door
Show runs June 4th-25th

Featured Artist 1: Ken Dougherty
Featured Artist 2: Deanna Adona
Featured Artist 3: Charles Swenson
Featured Artist 4: Bizarro Au Go-Go
Tall Wall Artist: Sherry DeLorme
Small Wall Artist: Shannon O’Connor
Installation Artist: JNGL

Circus Themed Artists:

Macsorro / Salah / Amina Harper / Andrew Long / Jessica Ward / Tiffany Silver Braun / Philippe Fernandez / Marlon McWilliams / Delphia / Christopher Ulrich / Kayla Sanders / Dustin Myers / Henry F. Cram / Jessica Valencia / Julie Bossinger / Ted Von Heiland / Tiffany Chang / Cynthia Rogers / Jonathan Measures / MARACOLE / Debbie Lee / Jantzen Peake / Larkin / Jaime Lakatos / Deborah Scott / Shayne Labadie / Daisuke Okamoto / Yuki Miyazaki / 3RDi / Josie Portillo / Erick Rodriguez / Celene Petrulak / Andrea Young / Alfie Numeric / Juan Muniz / Orion and Nathan Collaboration / Chloe Ching / Megan Elizabeth Ford / Alex Chiu / Marine Arzuyan and more!

SPECIAL EXHIBIT by The Chiodo Brothers!

The Chiodo Brothers, known for their Cult Classic Film “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” will be exhibiting Klown art (drawings, paintings and more) in The Hive Gallery
for the month of June!!!


“Hospital Clown installation by The Art of Bleeding”

Front Room Performances:

8-8:45pm – Aparato –
9-9:45pm – Push Play –
10- 10:45 – Mirden –
11- 11:45 – Grandpire –
12am-12:45- Machine Fang –

Back Room Performances:

8:00 – 9:00 TREK LEWIS
9:00 – 10:00 KALIX SKY
10:00 – 11:00 THE NOTHING
11:00 – 12:30 DJ JAY-YOU

Resident Artists:

Sensei / Nathan Cartwright / Mary Spring / Greg Gould / Walt Hall / Sarah Winkle / John Dang / Jinx / J.Salvador
/ Feminine Oddities / Shrine / Sonik / Leyla Akdogan / Stephan Canthal / Mike Street / Andres Carmiol /
/ The Little Red Writer / Randy Kono / Sara Hedstrom / Alex Schaefer / Patrick Haemmerlein / Alan DeForest / Bethany Pratt /
/ Radhika Hersey / Romina Gonzales / Yuki Miyazaki / Sophia Gasparian / Ink Pen Mutations Press / Doug Meyer /
Nicole Bruckman / Glenn Fox / Edyth Gonzalez / Daisuke Okamoto / David Reyes / Tom McDermott /
Michelle and Mark Rainville / Dominique Lopez / Catherine Kaleel / Michelle Romo


Alex Chiu
Ichae Ackso
John Haley III




Seraphime Angelis
Medium, Astrologer, Card Reader, Poet


A Few Cautionary Comics

After a long holiday weekend, your heads are probably a bit fuzzy and perhaps you’re overwhelmed with work, so it seemed safe to stick with something simple, i.e., comic books.   So today we offer four lovingly executed illustrations of things not to do in emergency situations.  Their original source  — presumably some sort of Red-Cross-issued faux comic book — remains something of a mystery, though we can thank Mostly Forbidden Zone, an eclectic trove of vintage scans from old books and magazines, for their appearance online.








Book Surgeries 2: Anthropodermic Books

vesaliusOur last entry on book surgeries got us thinking about a more grisly nexus of books and anatomy, in particular: anthropodermic bibliopegy, or the use of human skin in bookbinding.

If you thought such things only existed in concentration camp mythology and The Evil Dead movies, think again. Genuine examples can be found in museums the world over.  London’s Wellcome Library in London has one; Brown University in Providence, and Berkeley’s Bancroft Library each have one; Harvard has two, and The Mütter Museum boasts four examples including one sporting a tattoo.

Though reasons for the creation of such volumes were varied, the rationale is more or less apparent in many cases as with the skin from dissected cadavers used to bind anatomy books, or the skin of convicted murderers punitively employed in the binding of accounts of their trials. Less obvious, and more creepy — if one can really parse such things when it comes to books bound in human skin — would be the Bancroft Library’s  example created during the French Revolution– a book of common prayer.

Nor is the practice a thing of the past, as made clear this month by the appearance of a story about a Russian writer Maksim Aleshin currently writing a book he plans to have bound in his own skin, a proposition serious enough to have already placed the book on the market.  It’ll be  $100,000, so start squirreling away funds now as you’re sure to have competition from other ghoulish collectors, including the small but dedicated followers of the anthropodermic bibliopegy  interest group on FaceBook.


Book Surgeries: Brian Dettmer

The delightful science/culture blog Biophemera pointed us to the work of artist Brian Dettmer who creates his astounding altered books via a strictly subtractive process involving no more than an X-acto knife and creative vision. Though Dettmer performs his surgeries on old books on a variety of topics, we’ve chosen a few favorites with a medical theme because…. well, that’s just how we are.


The Household Physicians, 2008

Libraries of Health, 2008

Diseases of the Eye

Diseases of the Eye, 2005

Ever Felt a Felt Scrotum?


We don’t regularly patrol needlecraft blogs for topical material, but want to thank Scott of Laughing Squid for alerting us to this entry on Mr X Stitch discussing the work of Rachel Bernstein, a fiber artist working in New York with anatomical themes and subjects.

Bernstein comments on her unusual choice of subject:

In some of my work, I depict the body’s interior, challenging conventions of beauty. Inner organs are often presented as a subject of horror or, perhaps, clinical interest. But organs are as beautiful as the contours of our exteriors.I depict components of the digestive, circulatory, and muscular systems using organic materials such as felt and needlepoint to emphasize the delicacy and fragility of inner organs. They transform those parts that we least like to see into objects of exquisite and gentle intrigue.




The Swallowing Plates by Lisa Wood

A while ago I blogged this for Laughing Squid, and am reposting it here as it clearly reflects The Art of Bleeding’s own icky medical obsessions.


Does the name Chevalier Jackson ring a bell? No? Then you’re probably not a laryngologist or obsessive fan of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and its collection of medical oddities —  in particular the flat-files in which Dr. Chevalier Jackson obsessively-compulsively aranged his 2,000-piece archive of: “Foreign Bodies Removed from the Food and Air Passages.”

But you don’t need to know Jackson or have visited the museum to appreciate the work of San Francisco artist, collector, and jewelry designer Lisa Wood, who has created her own imaginative interpretation of the eccentric doctor’s collection using dinner plates, Victorian tintypes, and various esophagus-sized trinkets.

Each of Wood’s “Swallowing Plates”, published in her book The Swallowing Plates, Objects Swallowed and Recovered From the Human Body, serve up its tiny portion of doom along with matched narrative spun from the artist’s imagination — such as that of little Marion Pickering whose game of catching jacks in her mouth, claims not only her own life but the right arm of her guilt-ridden mother who flings herself before a train.

Those interested in a more literal (yet notably poetic) account of things that go down the wrong way and the doctor who loved them, may want to consult Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them, by award-winning author Mary Cappello.

For  a look at Wood’s other work, check out her recent set of insect dioramas currently on display at Gold Bug, Pasadena’s retail answer to the Mütter Museum.


When Candy isn’t Dandy



American artist Stephen Shanabrook gives new meaning to the phrase “dark chocolate” with his 2006 piece “On the Road to Heaven Highway to Hell,” an exacting duplicate of the remains of a suicide bomber sculpted in everyone’s favorite confection.

Shanabrook, who spent his youth working at a chocolate factory, has previously turned the medium to macabre ends with his “Morgue Chocolates” series — a set of luxury chocolate boxes filled with confections representing stab wounds, bullet wounds, rough autopsy sutures, and other trauma sites.  Like his suicide bomber, these pieces are crafted in loving detail.  And there’s no questioning the realism as these sweets were cast from molds Shanabrook made from actual bodies while visiting morgues in Russia.

Not appetizing, you say?  Apparently not everyone agrees, as some of Shanabrook’s pieces have disappeared into hungry mouths while on exhibition.  “Mostly kids,” he explains in an interview with Vice Magazine.  “They’re not scared of it. They just want the chocolate.”

(Pictures via