Since I was a young girl, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, but I never imagined I would be an artist. Growing up in Philadelphia, I attended medical school at Temple University with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Eventually, I discovered the specialty of diagnostic radiology, a field that requires advanced visual skills and the ability to solve puzzles presented as clues in the images.

During my nearly 25-year career as an educator and a radiologist, my creative side started to take shape. I developed an interest in photography, learned calligraphy and needlepoint, learned to make my own clothes, and even how to decorate cakes. It was only natural that one day I would find a new and creative way to view my own daily work as a radiologist. That’s when I started to discover that embedded within the images I was viewing day in and day out, were hidden shapes, symbols, and objects that most other radiologists never noticed. I decided to start to save these hidden images in a teaching file. I imagined I’d someday create a whole alphabet of letters, similar to a colorful print in my living room that depicted the alphabet in the shapes and colors of butterfly wings. I envisioned hanging something similar in my office using letters I saw in medical images.

In 2014, this vision began to come to life. My first piece, entitled “Letters to the RSNA” was created in November 2014 for a contest sponsored by the Radiologic Society of North America. To celebrate the Society’s 100th year, it held a contest for radiologic art, in which the winning pieces would be displayed at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago. Finally, after 20 years of collecting letters, I realized I had all twenty-six letters of the alphabet and could design a unique message for the society’s anniversary celebration. Using my Xray Alphabet, the design read “RSNA 100, a Century of Transforming Medicine.” It won honorable mention and I was pleasantly surprised to know that my piece would be displayed at the conference in Chicago.

After that, friends and colleagues began asking me to create custom pieces of art for them, their children, and for friends. The next thing I knew, I was taking a course at Wharton’s Small Business Development Center, learning what it takes to run a business.

Since 2015, I have been creating new and unique pieces of xray art, often inspired by my work, and my friends and family. I have exhibited in galleries in the Philadelphia area, have won honorable mention in art shows, had articles written about me, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Temple Health Magazine, and the Scranton Times. I have sold pieces throughout the U.S. and internationally, as far as Kuala Lumpur and Australia.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that although I originally thought the art would be appreciated primarily by those in the medical field, I have found that there is a much broader appeal. The art creates a connection with everyone who views it. Young and old, male or female, all races and nationalities connect to the art, because after all, it’s created from the human form, and that is something we all share, across all humanity.

Since I was a young girl, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, but I never imagined I would be an artist. Growing up in Philadelphia, I attended medical school at Temple University with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Eventually, I discovered the specialty of diagnostic radiology, a field that requires advanced visual skills and the ability to solve puzzles presented as clues in the images.

During my nearly 25-year career as an educator and a radiologist, my creative side started to take shape. I developed an interest in photography, learned calligraphy and needlepoint, learned to make my own clothes, and even how to decorate cakes. It was only natural that one day I would find a new and creative way to view my own daily work as a radiologist. That’s when I started to discover that embedded within the images I was viewing day in and day out, were hidden shapes, symbols, and objects that most other radiologists never noticed. I decided to start to save these hidden images in a teaching file. I imagined I’d someday create a whole alphabet of letters, similar to a colorful print in my living room that depicted the alphabet in the shapes and colors of butterfly wings. I envisioned hanging something similar in my office using letters I saw in medical images.

In 2014, this vision began to come to life. My first piece, entitled “Letters to the RSNA” was created in November 2014 for a contest sponsored by the Radiologic Society of North America. To celebrate the Society’s 100th year, it held a contest for radiologic art, in which the winning pieces would be displayed at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago. Finally, after 20 years of collecting letters, I realized I had all twenty-six letters of the alphabet and could design a unique message for the society’s anniversary celebration. Using my Xray Alphabet, the design read “RSNA 100, a Century of Transforming Medicine.” It won honorable mention and I was pleasantly surprised to know that my piece would be displayed at the conference in Chicago.

After that, friends and colleagues began asking me to create custom pieces of art for them, their children, and for friends. The next thing I knew, I was taking a course at Wharton’s Small Business Development Center, learning what it takes to run a business.

Since 2015, I have been creating new and unique pieces of xray art, often inspired by my work, and my friends and family. I have exhibited in galleries in the Philadelphia area, have won honorable mention in art shows, had articles written about me, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Temple Health Magazine, and the Scranton Times. I have sold pieces throughout the U.S. and internationally, as far as Kuala Lumpur and Australia.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that although I originally thought the art would be appreciated primarily by those in the medical field, I have found that there is a much broader appeal. The art creates a connection with everyone who views it. Young and old, male or female, all races and nationalities connect to the art, because after all, it’s created from the human form, and that is something we all share, across all humanity.

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The Xray Artistry alphabet and Xray Artistry products are all licensed artistic reproductions of actual human radiographs in accordance with healthcare privacy rules and regulations. All images and products are protected by Copyright © 2018 Susan Summerton, MD, Xray Artistry.