University of Southern California

Artist & Gallery

About the Artist
May Hyman Lesser

Over the past three decades, May Lesser immersed herself in the field of medicine and created an incredible body of artwork chronicling the study and practice of medicine. Through her drawings, color etchings, and commentary, she has not only traced the evolutionary transformation of medical students into practicing physicians but has also successfully interwoven the human side of medical education and the clinical environment of medicine into her work.

Ms. Lesser had a strong association with the field of medicine throughout her life. The daughter, wife, and mother of physicians, she possessed a keen sense of the culture of medicine. As a child, her fascination with the beautiful steel engravings of her father's anatomy, obstetrics, and surgery books led to a lifelong passion for drawing and etching. In 1967, she contacted the chairman of the anatomy department at the UCLA School of Medicine and requested permission to attend the anatomy labs in order to learn human bone and muscle anatomy better. In the introduction to her first book, The Art of Learning Medicine, she describes her initial experience at UCLA, which eventually led her to follow the Class of '71 through four years of medical school.

Below, in her own words, Ms. Lesser describes her initial experiences in the world of art and and medicine:

I had gone to UCLA Medical School to study more anatomy, feeling that studying more structure would be helpful to me. The professor of anatomy allowed me to audit lectures, and then when he saw my first plate of the sagittal series from sections of the human head embedded in clear plastic in the hallway cases, and saw how beautiful and intricate I found the structures and how filled up I was with the material, he permitted me to come to the Saturday dissection laboratory with the students.


Choose an image

The Surgeons
(Print in Library's Permanent Collection)

The Laboratory
(Print in Library's Permanent Collection)

J.C. Boileau Grant
(Print in Library's Permanent Collection)

Quiz Section

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