Art show features medical school's students, staff

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News,Science and Technology

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana University School of Medicine people usually receive plaudits celebrating their clinical or scientific acumen. But once a year, they can show off their artistic skill.

For the fifth straight year, the "Scientific Inquiry, Artistic Expression" art show invites students, faculty and staff to display their skills outside of an operating room or research laboratory. It runs through Nov. 29 in the IUPUI Campus Center.

"The overall vision of our committee was to create an environment where the cultural arts were celebrated," said Kim Harper, chairwoman of the school's art committee and executive director of the Indiana Center for Nursing. "It's amazing the talent we have."

About 45 people have their work on exhibit, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/SSvwKc ). Among them: a surgeon who sculpts, a pathologist and a psychologist who paint, and a gynecologist who works in glass.

Cancer researcher Lindsey Mayo is a good example.

His research focuses on the way tumors metastasize, or spread, to other areas in the body. Two years ago, he published a groundbreaking paper that identified a protein that may play a key role in helping breast cancer escape the breast and move to the brain and elsewhere.

Mayo's discovery could open the door to finding a drug that might disarm the protein and keep the cancer in check, a major coup that could save lives.

Once he takes off his lab coat, however, Mayo is more likely to pick up a wood saw than a pipette.

The exhibit includes two wooden keepsake boxes that Mayo designed and made. His Zionsville home contains numerous other examples of his work, from a crawl-through bed he designed for his son Evan to the family's kitchen table.

Mayo's interest in science predates his woodworking, but from the time he was a boy, growing up in Plainfield, he had an interest in building things. The first member of his family not to grow up on a farm, Mayo spent summers working construction or painting.

Only after he landed his first faculty job at Case Western Reserve University in 2003 did Mayo try woodworking. He had no background in the craft but figured he could learn as he went.

At the time, he and his wife were in the market for an entertainment center. Instead of buying a new one, as she preferred, he offered to make one.

This dynamic has replayed several times in recent years. Consider their dining room table or the end table that graces their foyer, based on a piece that caught wife Megan's eye at Crate & Barrel.

"It's always been a battle," Mayo said with a grin.

This marks the first year that Mayo decided to show his work. Some of his colleagues expressed surprise when they saw it. Such reactions lie behind the thinking that created the exhibit in the first place.

In its first year, Harper said, the art exhibit was held in conjunction with a research day. One-half of a large room contained scientific posters, the other artwork.

The object isn't to sell the work but to share it.

Most of the pieces Mayo makes have been gifts, such as the wooden cars he made for his son or the keepsake boxes he has given his daughters and is now making for his nieces.

Despite his love of the craft, Mayo isn't about to leave the lab.

On the face of it, Mayo's research and woodworking have little in common. But, sometimes, he said, he finds scientific inspiration in the third bay in his garage where his woodworking equipment sits.

"This lets me get in touch with my creative side. My work is creative, but this relieves the stress," he said. "Every now and then I have that Eureka moment. They play off each other."

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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