Science Communication Hub Nigeria

Meet Promise: An Anatomist And Artist Aspiring To Create Atlas of Medical Sciences For Schools

In this episode of inspiring science stories, we present Promise Nwachinemerem Okpechi, from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, College of Health Sciences Nnewi Campus, Anambra State, Nigeria.

Mr Okpechi is a self-taught, talented artist mostly dealing with portrait and sculpture showcasing medical science. His drawings depict a work of passion and hard work. He hailed from Itaja, Olokoro in Umuahia L G A, Abia State, Nigeria and has a BSc in Anatomy from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria. He uses his free time to do amazing artwork, mostly depicting anatomical structures of the human body, in line with his anatomy background. Some of these drawings look so true that people often wonder whether it is a professional textbook drawing, commonly found in popular books like Keith Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Mr Okpechi was happy to respond to our interview questions with some of his drawings. 

Tell us about your first exposure to science

I fell in love with Science in high school due to subjects like “Integrated Science” because I happened to understand it based on the way it was taught. It was something I could see, observe or even touch.

Who are your science heroes?

Leonardo da Vinci; he was an artist as well as a great dissector of anatomy. He was the first to dissect the dead body and drawn the internal structures; others include Andreas Vesalius, William Hunter, and Henry Vandyke Carter. Henry was a scientist and a clever artist who made the drawings of Gray’s Anatomy.

What led you to Anatomy?

My interest in anatomy was with no particular plan. I felt it was God who wanted me to be there in a particular time and for a definite purpose. My first area of interest was Medicine & Surgery, and it was in this area that I was offered admission, but along the line, I switched over to anatomy for some reasons.

Was it through Anatomy that you discovered your artistic skills?

Drawing is the gift I knew I had. I stirred it up and started using it mostly for making portraits, sculptures and other decorative arts when I face academic challenge coupled with financial hardship.

Tell us about your first artwork.

My first art to demonstrate anatomy was the drawings I made for my defence project in anatomy in October 2016. I designed it in a large folio format to ease the learning/teaching of Gross Anatomy. Since then, I have made over 500 drawings in publishable paper size, covering areas of Head & Neck, Upper & Lower limbs, following Neuroanatomy.

So what next?

Following the drawings I made for my BSc defence project in anatomy, I developed an interest in Medical Illustration. This is the combination of art skills with the knowledge of medical science.

What are your aspirations?

My aspirations are first, to create Atlas of medical sciences (e.g. Anatomy) with the simple style of drawing and colouring that will help Nigerian students gain an appreciation of complex subjects with a minimal amount of reading to comprehend with text-clear pictures. 

Second, to produce a guide/workbook designed to test the students understanding of both cadaveric dissections as well as the anatomy book. Moreover, to create Surgical Anatomy books that will serve as manual and guide to surgical accesses to various organs of the body and so forth. 

What would like to tell to fellow students and the public?

To my colleagues, students, and the public; art can exist as more than a decoration for a clinic wall or website. A detailed-oriented individual who genuinely enjoys and has a natural ability in both art and science can become a medical illustrator. The profession remains very viable due to growth in medical research that continually reveals new treatments that require medical illustrations and animations to explain them. I hope that such a profession would be given more attention. 

Drawings Promise


This post has first been published by Science Communication Hub Nigeria.


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