Author ORCID Identifier


Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017

Publication Title

Hektoen International: Journal of Medical Humanities






I first met Scottish artist Mark Gilbert in 2013 as a participant in his Ph.D. dissertation study, “The Experience of Portraiture in Clinical Settings” [EPICS]. I was introduced to the study during a follow-up appointment with my head and neck cancer surgeon. Twelve years earlier, at the age of fifty-three, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on my tongue, which was removed surgically along with corresponding lymph nodes. I also underwent radiotherapy. Prior to EPICS, Mark had collaborated with physicians and patients on several projects that sought to use art, specifically portraiture, to explore notions of illness, recovery, care, and caregiving. During these studies, Mark became acutely aware of how fundamental the intimate nature of the relationships and interactions between participants and himself were to the portrait-making process. He realized the connections made with each person were as diverse as the participants themselves and responded to their voices, both silent and spoken, to guide and inform the marks he made on the canvas.


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