When Mayeesha Ahmed ’17 forgets how the human heart works, she draws it.
“If I forget how to draw it, then I remember how it works,” says Ahmed, who is a scientific illustrator at the Joseph Moore Museum. Visualizing the heart helps her to understand its processes.
“I found that if I understand it, then I don’t have to memorize things,” she explains. The heart and lungs and how they work seem logical to her, but not the brain.
“I don’t think anyone completely understands how the brain works yet,” says the biochemistry major, who dreams of becoming a heart surgeon.
“I know that is an ambitious goal, but I love biology and I want to help people,” she says. Her love for biology began as a result of her interest in drawing.
“When I was younger we had to draw some of the diagrams in our biology books, but I drew them all anyway because I thought it was fun,” she says. These drawings have helped her to better understand how the body functions.
At the age of three, Ahmed remembers sitting alongside her mother drawing simple representations of Mickey Mouse, Sylvester, Tweety and other cartoon characters. Through the years, her skills expanded to include painting, charcoal and ink drawing. As a first-year at Earlham she took two courses in metals.
“This is where I learned that I really loved the intricate work,” she says. This eye for intricacy shows up in the projects she’s creating at the Joseph Moore Museum.
“(Mayeesha) went so far as to add wavy lines of text to the books on her poster,” says Carol Stocksdale, Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Joseph Moore Museum. “Mayeesha draws by hand and computer and is really, really fast.
“This helps the museum because then we own all of our own images, and we don’t have to seek permissions to use them.”
Ahmed says she found out about the Joseph Moore Museum’s need for someone with drawing skills during a biology course her second semester on campus.
“I don’t have time for studio art courses, so I really appreciate the projects I work on for the museum,” she says.
In addition to the poster, Ahmed has created preschool coloring books, Egyptian tiles and hieroglyphs and a polished brass mirror.
“Drawing is all about observation and balance from your hands,” she says. Ahmed hopes her interests in biology, drawing, and the intricacies of art serve her well on her path to becoming a heart surgeon.