Honoring Anatomy

Renewal honors all of the donors who have selflessly donated their bodies to Stanford Medical School. The sculpture was created using bricks from the original Clinical Anatomy structure but is placed directly above the new Clinical Anatomy Labs in the Center for Clinical Sciences Research (CCSR). Renewal honors the past as a means of breathing new life into underutilized spaces and creating a place for contemplation and community.

About the Sculpture

Renewal is comprised of 77 bricks salvaged from the rubble of the original Anatomy Building by Dr. Don Prolo (MD ’61). Designed by Lauren Toomer, a Stanford Alumnus and teacher of the Art and Anatomy class, the sculpture was inspired by the waveforms of heart beats on a vitals monitor.

Although Toomer first learned of the bricks and their history in 2014, she did start designing concepts for the donor memorial until 2017. Working with Clinical Anatomy Chair Dr. Sakti Srivastava, Matthew Tiews, Stanford’s associate vice president of the arts, Facilities Dean Niraj Dangoria, and Audrey Shafer, head of the School of Medicine’s Art Committee, Toomer’s design was given initial approval (despite some hesitation about the feasibility of attaching bricks to copper rods). Toomer hand built a prototype with the help of Dan Tiffany, former drawing and sculpture manager for the Department of Art and Art History, and received final approval from Tiews, the University Architects, and the School of Medicine Deans in November 2018.

Toomer then meticulously cleaned each brick, one at a time, revealing a beautiful array of colors and textures underneath. Toomer also met with Project Manager David Golden, who helped Toomer turn her drawings into a 3D visual model. Despite some trouble with initial finishing on the rods, the memorial was finally installed on March 3, 2020.

Artist Statement

The world is ever cycling and recycling. With my sculpture, I reimagined the historic bricks into a new contemporary vision. I transformed them into an object of art, which draws from its new contexts and meanings. Given the bricks’ rebirth, it felt appropriate to title it Renewal.

As an artist, I continually look at alternative approaches that challenge the spatial, contextual, and surface boundaries that circumscribe us. I designed a sculpture that maintained the structural integrity of the material. Similar to the human body, each brick is different with hues that range from a warmer sienna to a flushed unsaturated pink. The bricks are a-top a green patinated copper rod. I selected a green patina to work in harmony with the surrounding courtyard garden and architectural palette. The rods rise from a river-rock bed like the bamboo behind it. Similar to a portrait each brick has a unique face. Unadorned, some have a smooth texture, while others have deeper grooves. The cracks on it are the scars of history where moments of time immortalized. The sculpture spans 342 inches long and 42 inches deep. The collective grouping of rods take the pattern of a soft-curved rhythmic wave. The rod heights range from 70.5 to 13.5 inches. Each brick reaches for the sky, standing upright like arm guards at a gate. The piece salutes the Donors to the Anatomy Willed Body Program and the Division of Clinical Anatomy.

About the Artist

Lauren A. Toomer studied art and anatomy while obtaining her MFA in Art Practice at Stanford University. She received a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, summa cum laude. Toomer has lectured at Stanford since 2015 and remains committed to advancing the field of medical humanities and visual art. She has a full-time joint lecturing appointment at Stanford University. She lectures in the Departments of Art and Art History, Surgery, and Anesthesiology at Stanford University. Additionally, Toomer was invited to join and serve as a member of the School of Medicine’s Art Committee. She also maintains a dedicated studio practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Artworks created by Toomer are on permanent display at the Redwood City, Fair Oaks Health Center, the Kaiser Permanente boardroom in California.

Some of Toomer’s speaking engagements include the SF Gov Art Commission Gallery, Anderson Collection, and the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. Highlights of Toomer’s exhibition history include the director’s offices at SFMOMA, San Jose Tech Museum, Art on Paper Miami, and SCOPE NY. Toomer was also the recipient of the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Fellowship from the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and the Drawing of Excellence Award.