Senior Project Social Action Piece

by Jasmine Brooks

A child growing up in the 21st century experiences many pressures but, one of the most intimidating being social media. An ever growing community of connections with people halfway across the world or right down the street from you. Social media is tricky, as with anything its intended use can be misconstrued and forged to meet the needs of its user. Children make up the majority of social media platforms demographic, about 89%. Since they are growing up and forming who they want to be, stances on social issues, and maybe even just what they want to wear the next day, children are very influential. They take cues from the world and use them to shape the answers for the decisions they have to make. Children being on social media is inevitable making them a recurring source of not only statistics but, in the case of social media advertisers, money. Advertising has been a thing for many years but only recently has it made its new home in social media. As one scrolls down their timeline they can see various ads catered to what they like. Now to a kid this may seem like pure fate, in reality it’s the exact opposite. They are being targeted by these larger advertising companies who use social media as a gateway to a younger audience. After having access to the audience they sought out, they will bombard the child with unrealistic expectations, and products to reach said expectations not to mention some of their favorite celebrities swear by some of the products they see. This constant exposure and over saturation of products that draw in the the adolescents attention leads to an over dependence of social media dependency. This social media dependency can be explained as the need to use a media medium, in the case social media, to satiate one’s goals, needs, and wants. Following this dependency are mental health issues such as, negative body issues, depression, suicidal thoughts etc. It’s a cycle that almost feels impossible to break, because children are too familiar with the feeling having social media gives. As they grow so do the technological advancements so social media’s intended will soon be completely lost in translation. What was once made to allow connection between multiple people at once, has turned into something that will inevitably introduce children to mental health issues.

Jasmine Brooks is a senior at Freire Charter High School and the Multimedia Intern at STAMP. She’s always found art, of any kind, to be cathartic.

The Mütter Museum’s History of Dissection Lesson

by Sabirah Mahmud

A new lesson is being brought to The Mütter Museum. In this lesson, we delve at the Museum into the history of Human Dissection and discover pretty cool and gory details about this medical innovation.

Image Courtesy of The Mütter Museum

The lesson ventures into the beginning of human dissection. As dissections were thought to be very taboo due to cultural morals back then, most dissections and observations on anatomy were done on animals. Fun fact, Galen, Greek physician’s own research was based on the anatomy of animals, not humans; however, his research tried to go into the human anatomy. Imagine reading an article about human health to find out ALL of that information was based on animal anatomy. Crazy, right? Nonetheless, science eventually progressed and we started making human observations. Amongst those who started this practice was Andreas Vesalius. He wrote the De humani corporis fabrica libri septem which was one of the first medical journals based on actual human anatomy, not animal anatomy.

Who exactly becomes these specimens that people dissect? At the time, it was mostly those who lacked agency over their lives such as the poor, marginalized, prisoners, and enslaved people. These people were primarily reflected in the works of J. Marion Sims, a progressive gynecologic surgeon. Dr. Sims had performed his surgeries on enslaved women in the Americas. However, something we can ask ourselves is, was the fact he had forced these enslaved women be his subject for his surgeries really worth it for the cause?

Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

In the future, the bodies that become specimens aren’t those who are marginalized or enslaved. Due to the strict laws that follow donating one’s body to science, most dissections of human bodies are now from willed donations. This is shown through one of the Mütter’s most famous exhibits, the body of Henry Eastlack. Henry had suffered from a rare condition and after he passed, he had donated his body to the will of those who wanted to learn more about his condition.

Enough about who becomes these specimens, where did we get them? There are some dark tales as well as some not-so-dark ones about where these bodies are from. Some of these bodies came from those who were “sentenced to science,” blatantly murdering people for this purpose and grave robbing. William S. Forbes, an American physician, was implicated in a scheme involving graverobbers, who took bodies and allegedly sold them to Forbes but according to experts at the Mütter, “there is no evidence that he or his confederates were killing people to sell their bodies to the medical schools.”

An example of the creepy and gory is the tale of William Burke and William Hare. The two had murdered 16 people in Scotland and sold their bodies to the medical schools because of the constant demand for bodies. As this isn’t the best option, the next one was grave robbing which also doesn’t bode well in general. This took place in many ways though. A man by the name of Michael Mastromarino had actually taken bodies from funeral homes and replaced their bones with PVC pipes. These were some of the ways at that time people got these cadavers.

This lesson finishes on an interesting, modern note. For this generation, we have reached and seen the fact these human specimens are now displayed for learning and instruction. This is also the purpose of The Mütter Museum as they hope to always educate the public about the human body. A special example of this learning instruction is shown at this peculiar art exhibit, Body Works Amsterdam, where they quite literally display real human and animal cadavers as art as a way of learning about the human body in a peculiar way. Though this may make most of you question this intent, we have actually gone far from seeing these dissections as taboo to now having them on display for educational purposes.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, I hope you sign up soon to get your own lesson on The Mütter Museum’s History of Human Dissection. If so, please share it with us and let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Sabirah Mahmud is a sophomore at the Academy At Palumbo as well as a Teen Ambassador for Philly STAMP representing the Mutter Museum, and the Penn Museum. She enjoys doing Congressional Debate and Declamation Oratory at her school as well as playing the Oboe and Clarinet in her spare time.

History of Medical Fake News at the Mütter Museum

by Sabirah Mahmud

Have you ever been to the Mütter Museum? If so, have you ever had a lesson from their wide range of interesting medical and scientific topics? If you answered no to any of these questions, then I have an offer for you that may compel to finally get a lesson and visit the Mütter Museum. They recently have introduced a new medical lesson called the Medical Fake News which exposes the history of fake medical cures and conditions that many people endorse and argue.

An ad promoting violet ray therapy for pain relief. Courtesy of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
An ad promoting violet ray therapy for pain relief. Courtesy of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Let’s start about the past of medical fake news. In the past, there was hearsay of new medical breakthroughs and cure-alls, but were they really all they lived up to? There were many speculations that violet rays would provide many health benefits like destroying all germs, cure hair loss, and help eczema; however, these medical fallacies didn’t just stop there. Additionally, Dr. McLaughlin’s Electric Belt had apparently shocked the female problems and complaints out of a woman and Angelo Mariani’s patent medicine, Vin Mariani, had “said” that it would increase productiveness and help to make someone happy. However, these were all proved ineffective. As the electric belt itself would shock the one who wore it constantly, it is very blatant and self-explanatory as to why it would be ineffective. The violet rays were proved later on to be ineffective and Vin Mariani had soon given those who used it mercury poisoning which instead of being a cure-all, gave someone a deathly disease.

Now closer to the present, we hear these crazy medical “breakthroughs” all the time. Whenever I’m on a website, I usually see an ad that says, Click here if you want to find the cure to cancer. If you’ve seen this like me, sometimes you’re compelled to read more and truly find out what is behind this link, but would you believe me that this is also an example of the medical fallacies that we see today. Something that we might have all have heard through these false advertisements is the “cure” for cancer through apricots, specifically through their b17 seeds. In reality, as some would connect this to something that as a collective we would all want, this is actually connected to cyanide poisoning and could be fatal to anyone who tries this method. It is important that though sometimes these medica fallacies may be humorous, they actually have serious consequences that we all must be aware of. As expected though, there are always conspirators who believe that the rejection of this method is just the government suppressing cancer cures for bigger companies and hiding the truth.

Courtesy of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Courtesy of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

However, these medical fallacies don’t always take place in a serious manner. How many times have you told yourself that you are going to go on that 2019 diet? I’m sure I have. Nonetheless, these diets aren’t always as true as they may seem. In the past, there was a diet called Fletcherism created by Horace Fletcher. The reason I mention it is because this ‘diet’ had many crazy rules to it. Fletcherism included chewing your food 30-50 times and if you’ve ever tried this, you would know it would be nearly impossible to chew anything past 20 times. This isn’t the only crazy diet though, there is also the hay diet. This diet includes not eating AT ALL. The theory behind this is that food creates a disease, many people actually believed this.

Fallacies don’t just come through diets and crazy potions and devices, they also come in many other ways. There are the random stories that smelling farts, of all things, can apparently ‘cure’ cancer that is usually from misinterpreted and bogus studies. Sometimes these fallacies can even be shown in crazy anti-aging methods where the Sun had released an article saying that apparently drinking the blood of young people can slow the aging process. Similarly to most of these fallacies that are mentioned, they are always brought up through a suspicious branch of science like Phrenology, the science of studying the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities.

But how can we figure out that these news stories  are fake? Well, the Mütter Museum will provide you with many tips, though I can tell you a few.

Firstly, if you’re reading an article and there is no author, it’s already a red flag. If you go onto reading and it’s from a questionable site, you can already tell the situation isn’t so great. Finally, if you see that there are poor copy editing, grammatical errors, and they rely on conspiracy theories, I promise you that this is a medical fallacy. However, the story doesn’t end here. I encourage you all to visit the College of Physicians Mütter Museum and take this lesson on the History of Medical Fake News.

Sabirah Mahmud is a sophomore at the Academy At Palumbo as well as a Teen Ambassador for Philly STAMP representing the Mutter Museum, and the Penn Museum. She enjoys doing Congressional Debate and Declamation Oratory at her school as well as playing the Oboe and Clarinet in her spare time.

February 2019 Happenings at ICA

written by Amelia Dogan

The Institute of Contemporary Art in University City just opened up three new exhibits this February. The ICA is free for all (even for you non-STAMP friends and family!) and often has thought-provoking exhibits with modern art.

Tony Conrad in front of Yellow Movie 2/2/73(1973) and two Yellow Movie—35mm Format canvases (1973), in his retrospective exhibition, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, New York, December 1977. Photo: Kevin Noble. Yellow Movie 2/2/73. Courtesy The Estate of Tony Conrad and Greene Naftali, New York. Image courtesy Tony Conrad Archives Work© The Estate of Tony Conrad.

The first exhibit is a retrospective of Tony Conrad, a primarily video artist who was most active in the second half of the twentieth century and recently passed away. One of the pieces that made me think the most was “Yellow Room,” a video installation in a room with yellow stripes. Conrad also had structural sculptures like a series called “Invented Acoustical Tools.” These tools are combinations of unlikely tools and everyday objects that make sound. One interactive example is a swinging bench that a person can sit on and pluck the cello-like strings holding the bench up to create sounds.

Kevin Jerome Everson,IFO, 201716mm film projected, sound10 minutes

The next exhibit is “Mundane Futures,” the first chapter of Colored People Time (CPT). The series CPT is a trilogy of exhibits exploring blackness and the future throughout 2019. This first chapter looks at how the idea of colored people time bucks the tradition of punctuality being key to capitalism. Mundane Futures includes work from Afro-Futurist manifestos, Black Panther newspapers, and academic lectures. There are also video installations and modern art. Be on the lookout for a couple goodies though, including a novel from 1899 and a poster.

Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, 2017. Installation view, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans. Photo: Alex Marks

The last exhibit is a bunch of work by Cecilia Vicuña, a Chilean artist. The first piece that caught my attention was a 3D collage that emphasized lines with different textures and rhythms. The other large instillation in the exhibit is comprised of yarn and sticks. Vicuña also draws from indigenous traditions like the quipu, an Inca way of keep track of numbers and harvests through knots. Vicuña, in addition to being an artist, is a poet and the wall has some of her poetry in Spanish and English.

Overall, the ICA has an exciting 2019 year ahead of it. The ICA’s season has started with a big bang, and I hope you check it out!

Amelia Dogan is a senior at Penn Charter and a member of the STAMP Teen Council.