Medical students unveil mural – gradually – at memorial service

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine

Mani Yahyavi-Tajabadi, a first-year medical student at Upstate, in front of the mural he and his classmates painted as a tribute to those who donated their bodies to Upstate's anatomical gift program. Photo by Susan Kahn.

Last weekend’s memorial service honoring those who donated their bodies to Upstate Medical University’s anatomical gift program featured a mural designed and painted by Mani Yahyavi-Tajabadi and other first-year medical students.

But what the family members, friends and students saw when they entered Hendricks Chapel Saturday afternoon was not the finished product.

As Mani explained from the podium during the service, the individual 2×2 foot panels of “Anatomy of the Silence Beyond the Shadow” were intentionally placed out of order. Why?

“To show the interconnections that we share with one another,” Mani said later. “That we are all human not because of our race, background, or personality, but because of our anatomy, and that is something that we all have in common.”

Having the panels mixed up, he said, was also a metaphor for the medical student experience. By studying anatomy via the gifts of the donors, students are able to “solve” the puzzle and reconstruct the various structures.

“The pieces are scrambled to signify the interconnections that we share with each other,” Mani told the audience. “Life is the antithesis to entropy, and now we will rearrange them to bring order to the chaos.”

With that, Mani and some of his classmates (Mohammed Al-Samrrai, Anup Shah and James Newman) put the panels in their proper order.

The photos below, by Susan Kahn, show the progression of the mural coming together. The students hope to find a permanent home for it on the Upstate campus.

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine

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