Doctor Anonymous: A Play Reading at the Mütter

On May 2, 1972, Dr. John E. Fryer, a professor of psychiatry at Temple University, delivered a talk at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association calling for the organization to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Fryer, a closeted homosexual who risked discrimination, harassment, and professional ostracism for speaking out on this subject, concealed his identity, delivering his talk while wearing a rubber mask and using a voice modulator under the pseudonym “Dr. H. Anonymous.”  Thanks to his efforts, the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in April 1974.

On April 19, 2017, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia will be hosting a dramatic reading of Guy Frederick Glass’ play on Fryer’s speech: simply titled Doctor Anonymous. Glass’s play explores gay conversion therapy and the events leading up to the the APA’s removal of homosexuality from the DSM.  It is the first time selections from his performance have been read in Philadelphia.

Guy Glass is a psychiatrist, playwright, and Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed his residency in psychiatry at the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital. He held a private practice in New York where he specialized in treating LGBT patients and also edited the newsletter for the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists. Later in his career, he branched into performance art, earning an MFA in theater from Stony Brook University. His play first appeared in Los Angeles in 2014.

The dramatic reading will take place from 6-8 PM here at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased here. General admission is $10. Students (with valid ID) and Mütter Museum members can purchase tickets for $5. Admission is free to CPP Fellows and members of the Section on Medicine and the Arts.  The event is presented by CEPI and the Section on Medicine and the Arts of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Exquisite Corpses Etching Workshop: Drypoint Edition

A few weekends ago, a number of students crowded around a display of books in our historical medical library as Historical Medical Librarian Beth Lander spoke. The books ranged from the Renaissance to the 1850’s, and were all filled with astoundingly beautiful medical illustrations. Beth went from book to book, elucidating the various manuscripts and placing them in context of their history and importance to medicine. The students were there to cut them apart. Well, not the actual books, but photocopies of the illustrations in them. This was all part of a class in tandem with Second State Press called Exquisite Corpses Etching Workshop: Drypoint.

After we had spent an hour poring over the minute details of the illustrations in these antique books, students ventured into the classroom, where a spread of the photocopies lay across two 6 foot tables. Students chose a handful of images and went to work cutting them apart and gluing them onto paper, reassembling, abstracting, and creating inspired collages.


Printmaker Lauren Pakradooni from Second State then passed out sheets of plexiglass. Students placed the plexi plates on top of their collages and traced them, digging and etching into the plates with a sharp pointed tool called a scribe. Lauren described the techniques one could use to create marks and make tonal value, including cross-hatching, stippling, and scratching with sandpaper.

On Sunday, students came to Second State Press where they inked their incomplete plates and did test prints to see how their initial etchings were coming out. After reviewing how the various techniques looked once printed, students worked back into their plates, completing their etchings and running them through the press, with terrific results!

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Be sure to check our Events page for upcoming arts events – we are holding another session of our 8-week specimen drawing course, Drawing Anatomical Anomalies in September and October, as well as an interactive performance of Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, followed by cocktails and a conversation about tuberculosis in Poe’s life and works on October 4th.

Reflections on Our Trip to the Barnes Foundation

Philadelphia youth from CEPI's Karabots Junior Fellows Program and Teva Pharmaceutivals Internship Program pose in front of the entrance to the Barnes Foundation

~ “Art therapy can be especially beneficial to children as younger people are usually less capable and less comfortable expressing themselves via words.” – I ❤️ Art Therapy.

Recently, several of CEPI’s interns from our various youth programs took a trip to the Barnes Foundation to explore the site’s unique art galleries and contemplate the relationship between health and art. Sheila and Honesty, two of our Karabots Junior Fellows who took the trip, are here to share their experiences:

(Sheila:) On our trip to the gallery, we saw a lot of cool art that we never even imagined could exist. Before, I never really took art seriously; I literally just thought of it as beautiful pictures used for decoration. Going to this trip changed my mind completely, I learned that art can be seen through so many different perspectives. For every image, there is a story behind it. Just like a sigh, a person can just sigh and you can ask yourself “Is everything OK with them?,” but behind every sigh there’s a story. A person can be tired, angry or maybe they can’t take it anymore. We all see it differently.

(Honesty:) Medicine is also a kind of art. It takes time to perfect an art and it takes time to perfect one’s medical skills. Research has also shown that art can be therapeutic.  Art can be used as a form of therapy for people who find it hard to express themselves or have other mental disorders such as anxiety, dyslexia, or depression. Overall, art can be very powerful and connects to many things in life. It is another way for everyone to tell their story, have a conversation, or express themselves in ways others wouldn’t be able to.

A New Session of the Mütter’s Drawing Course


CEPI is gearing up to start a new session of Drawing Anatomical Anomalies, the course where students gain special access to study and draw specimens from the Mutter Museum storage vaults! Last session the class was full at 16 students and we drew everything from bones showing mal unions to desiccated feet with comminuted fractures, hearts with tricuspid valvulitis, and a beautifully sculpted wax model of intestines afflicted with tuberculosis.

The course is organized by specimen type: bone, desiccated, wet, and wax medical models, known as moulage. There are a few sessions where we take time to do more specialized study, such as the Comparative Skull Drawing Class, and the museum is opened up several nights for open drawing in the museum, where students can pick any subject on view to create a drawing from. We had a variety of students; recent art school graduates, a tattoo artist, a veterinary student, a world history professor, a special effects make-up artist, a medical student, and a graphic designer who flew in from Texas to take the course! The students were focused and approached their subjects with incredible seriousness – though we do try to keep a sense of humor around all these old bones! They produced fantastic drawings, which you can view in the Museum’s online exhibition here:

Don’t forget to sign up for the next session of Drawing Anatomical Anomalies, beginning October 2015!

An Evening of Botanical Drawing and Cocktails!


Last Friday CEPI hosted a new art workshop – An Evening of Botanical Drawing and Cocktails! We began the night by talking to our botanist Zya Levy, of WE THE WEEDS. Zya explained how botanists look at plants, the components that make up plants, and what to look for to identify them. Next, we discussed the etymology, history, and former and current medicinal uses of some of the plants. Many herbs had associations dating back to ancient times – Garlic, for instance, used to be left by Greeks at crossroads as an offering to Hecate, Goddess of magic and witchcraft.

We headed out into the garden after the short lecture and began to draw. The temperature had cooled off and the garden was fragrant with the scents off all its herbs. Zya helped everyone identify their plants, and I talked with students about line quality, texture, and detail. The sun set at 8pm and we made our way back inside as the light faded from the garden. Then we made our cocktails! Everyone got a recipe sheet with suggested botanical concoctions. The herbs included sage, lavender, and fennel, and the drinks were all based with gin or vodka. We mixed, muddled and stirred to create some truly delicious drinks, and had some time to socialize, too!

This was one of our favorite recipes – it calls for lavender syrup, which is made quite easily at home by boiling 3 quarts of water with 3 cups sugar and two cups dried lavender buds until the sugar dissolves. Filter it through cheesecloth or a fine mesh collander and allow time to cool. And please, remember to drink responsibly!

The Chevalier Jackson Sling

• Ice
• 2 ounces gin
• 1 ounce lavender syrup
• 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 ounce honey
• 2 ounces seltzer or club soda
• 3-4 sage leaves, muddled