Artist : Bisa Butler
The Oath Takers, 2017
This piece was commissioned by the National Medical Association Council on Concerns of Women Physicians and was displayed at the Annual Muriel Petioni, M.D. Awards luncheon in Philadelphia, in July of 2017. I created this piece with direct input from the NMA’ s Dr. Yolanda Lawson, and Garbo Hearne; owner of Hearne Fine Art.
This quilt represents the commitment to healing and excellence in Medicine from the days of our ancient ancestors, to the women doctors of today.The first figure you see is the Egyptian goddess known as Isis to the Greeks and Auset to the ancient Egyptians, she was known as the great mother embodying all of the positive feminine attributes such as; marriage, fertility, motherhood, magic, medicine and was known as the gestator, bringerforth, nurturer, protector and preserver. She is the Virgin Mother in their society. I have depicted her as deep blue because blue colored figures in ancient Egypt indicated a person or being who was never human but exists as a spiritual being residing in a higher plane.
The figures beneath her represent African American women doctors from our recent past. The figure on the right wears a white coat, dress, and a typical Betty Grable style hairstyle popular in the 1930’s and 40’s with a head mirror. The woman in the middle is the doctor from the 1960’s to the present who is the policy maker. She wears a suit, a stethoscope, and is holding a folder for her documents . The last figure is a female surgeon wearing her scrubs and natural hair. Each woman has different skin color combinations to represent the diversity of skin tones in the African diaspora. The women have different body types to show the various shapes and sizes that we come in. The women are in a line formation reminiscent of the Hidden Figures film to echo the philosophy of African American women who achieve excellence in their fields and will no longer remain hidden. The African American female doctors have changed this country from behind the scenes and in the forefront.
The Isis figure hovers behind the three women to help guide them and reinforce them. She represents the knowledge that we achieved excellence in the past and continues to spiritually guide her soul sisters into the future and beyond.
The title, The Oath Takers is in reference to the Hippocratic Oath – First do no harm” (Latin: Primum non nocere)