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Podophyllotoxin

The alkaloid, podophyllotoxin, on which the painting is based

This project has been primarily focused on revealing connections between modern medical science and ancient healing traditions. In addition to incorporating the ancient texts that have carried this medical knowledge through thousands of years, each painting is compositionally based on a molecular structure. In other words, the placement of flowers, atoms and molecular rings within each painting is based on the molecular armature of the plant’s primary medicinal alkaloid.

The painting “Mayapple” also includes a nod to an Iroquois prayer for thanksgiving and the Native American tribes who utilized this plant for a variety of treatments. More recently, derivatives of the Mayapple have been useful in treating cancer. Specifically, teniposide—a podophyllotoxin derivative—is used as a less toxic chemotherapeutic medication to treat childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain tumors, and other types of cancer. For all of its useful applications, the Mayapple’s poisonous traits make it dangerous to use without caution.

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