What is the MRI Project?

What is the MRI Project?

Well, it has changed since its first inception.  And it very well might change again. Originally it began when I believed I had epilepsy and I was focused on an art project using MRI slides. (You can scroll down and see my original “My Story” post to get the whole back story….)

Since then, I found out that I have Brain Cancer – Grade 2 Astrocytoma – and in February 2012 I had surgery to remove the tumor.  Luckily they got the majority of the cancer out.

Two weeks after surgery!

And so now I’m here, in a new place, a new perspective, a new community,  but the same girl.

I’m trying to load my left brain with brain research and laugh at the irony that I was a Cognitive Science major in Undergrad.

I’m indulging my right brain with creativity in dance, art, music and photography, which I have studied (and made my profession) at various points through out my life.

And because I have a bit of a fight in me, and at the moment I’m not currently fighting with chemo or radiation, I’m looking to fight via spreading awareness, spreading my experience, reaching out to those looking for a community, more information, or just something interesting.

Please do read below, because the sentiment is still valid.  And I do still wish for you to participate here…. so please check out the updated PARTICIPATION page to find out how!!

Written December 6, 2011:

My Story

In the Fall of 2011, I was experiencing some strange symptoms – hallucinating the smell of rubber, loosing the sense of time, feeling outside of my body.  These symptoms were usually fleeting, but nonetheless disturbing.  Worried that I was having a stroke, or maybe loosing my mind, I went to urgent care.  I had an MRI. And from the MRI, I found out that I had a brain cyst. But there was a block of time where I knew about the cyst, but did not have a diagnosis.

During this time I didn’t really know what to do.  I needed to keep busy.  I’m a photographer and I had my MRI films.

So my MRI self Portrait was conceptualized.

ashley myers-turner

(Side note for the doctors out there: yes, there is a technical sagittal/frontal discrepancy, but forgive me, it’s an artistic rendering.)

This image was my attempt at capturing my frustration with my brain and anxiety about my future.  Even though I’ve lived and experienced my brain through my life, I’ve never actually seen my brain until I looked at this MRI image.  So the fusing of these images was also my trying to accept this strange looking, malfunctioning, imperfect thing as a part of me.  And…… it gave me something else to think about!

After visiting my Neurologist, I found out that I’m experiencing Complex Partial Seizures, and that they are easily treated with low doses of medication.  Sigh of relief!

The Project

Born out of this experience is The MRI Project.

I’d like to fuse science and the arts by working with other people to create portraits using MRI images. 

If you have your own MRI image, I want to make a similar portrait of YOU! I want to hear about YOUR experience. And I want to share all of that with other people.

Creating this portrait was personally satisfying to me and helped me reach an increased level of comfort with my diagnosis.  It allowed me to be more curious about myself and technology instead of being paralyzed by the fear that such a diagnosis (or the process of going through it) may induce.  I hope that this process may help other people in the same way, alleviating some of their anxieties, forming deeper understanding of their bodies, or just being something fun to do with MRI film they have laying around.

In addition, hopefully sharing these images and stories here will spark conversation.  Be it conversation about Epilepsy or diagnosis in general, about health care, about where science and art meet, about stigma and society, about photography. Conversation about something.

If you are interesting in participating please contact me at TheMRIProject@gmail.com. Also, check out the “How to Participate” page.



  1. Elise Abdalla

    This is so awesome Ashley! And I can’t even imagine how scary that must have been – I would not have handled that situation well at all!

  2. Kalinda Dobson

    Ashley, we are thinking of you everyday and praying for a speedy recovery. We send our love and support. What you are doing is so cool, you are such a creative and talented person!

  3. Lara Dobson

    Ashley, my Mom sent me a link to you blog – this is so cool! What a unique way to handle this situation. Wishing you a speedy recovery, and hoping for the best. Much love, your cousin Lara.

  4. Sometimes we go through health challenges to open us to our ultimate life path and accomplishing what we are REALLY here to do. Those challenges are actually a gift as well as an impetus. It is clear you have grabbed the metaphoric raging health bull by the horns and artistically twisted it into something manageable in a unique and imaginative way.

    “sharing these images and stories here will spark conversation. Be it conversation about Epilepsy or diagnosis in general, about health care, about where science and art meet, about stigma and society, about photography. Conversation about something”

    You are brilliant to come up with this concept! Somewhere around here I have some old MRIs of my own health challenges. Count me in on this project.

    Have you made a giclee of your artistic rendering?

    I am putting together a proposal for a sonic art/sound healing exhibit with a local museum. We are in very preliminary planning stages, but the concept originated with Elena Becks at Stanford University around 2008. When Elena took early retirement, we had four projects together in the works, two of which are on hold at Stanford. One project Elena is pursuing and the sonic art exhibit – hopefully it will become a travelling exhibit – is my artistic baby to nurture.

    As MRI is a magnetic field and radio frequency combination, your rendering is a fabulous – and very unique – expression of the use of sound as a step in healing – in this case, diagnosis. I would be delighted to include your art in the exhibit.

    Hugs and love to you,

  5. OMG. I love your blog (and the design of the blog).

    I recently made a very similar self-portrait using my real MRI scan. We have similar tastes!

    Here’s a link to it on Facebook:

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