Diabetes and Art

Hi all, I’m really interested in works of art that deal with diabetes. Any recommendations? Amateur or professional - everything is welcome!

Happy to post some of the artworks that I’ve found so far, if anyone is interested.

What medium are we talking about. I mean I got a tattoo, but there are much more elaborate tattoos than what I have.
My daughter did a charcoal drawing of me if I were an insulin syringe once. If I can find it I’ll post it.

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I do not have any diabetes themed art, but I do have a dress with insulin molecules printed on it. I actually really like the dress (insulin molecules aside, it’s very comfortable and has pockets!) I have only been asked once or twice what the print is.

You could add a glucose molecule trim.
I’m trying to imagine your print, insulin peptide chain is kind of ugly, actually 2 chains together, but if you have an insulin diagram it might be more ascetic

The print looks very much like this

Unless you look closely, it looks like an abstract design print.

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Kinda cool. It’s definitely the amino acids chain of my first image but they used some artistic flair to make it look nicer.
Does it smell like bandaids tho.

Ha, thankfully it does not.

Any medium! Tattoos and charcoal drawings (awesome if you have pics you can share!) and dress with insulin molecules (btw, where did you find this?) all count. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know what insulin molecules look like - that is really cool!

I’ve been interested in making art from my diabetic data (blood-glucose measurements, insulin injection amounts, carbs etc.) so I’m really curious about the other ways people are approaching diabetes from an art and design perspective.

I have a health and illness collection, but nothing diabetes specific.
I have epilepsy pieces, but not diabetes. You raise an interesting point.

I have produced a lot of work with syringes in it, but I have sold them.

If I’m honest, I’m certain that they have all been purchased by people in recovery, not diabetics. I have gifted paintings with syringes to nurses after they took care of members of my family…because I was sitting in the ICU and I had a lot of time and a lot of syringes in my purse.

Maybe the symbol of a syringe changes after covid.

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Thanks, mohe0001. Some very interesting thoughts on the different meanings and interpretations of syringes. What kind of art did you create with the syringes? How did you use them?

I’d also be interested to learn more about your health and illness collection. Is it also work you created? Or other people’s work?

Here is my wrist art


These aren’t really my collection, but they are from a health and illness exhibit a couple years ago. There is some patient work, work by an ICU nurse, etc. The exhibit was at a local college that trains a lot of new paramedics and nurses.

I did the middle two. All of these pieces are about an individuals relationship with SOMEONE ELSE’S illness (except the top two - those are all about exploring ones own illness).

These are found object pieces that a friend of mine used to make when he was manic (at no other time did he produce work). He came off a long, pretty tragically brutal spell and I encouraged him to submit to the show as a way of provoking him into reflecting on his illness. I actually put together this exhibit FOR him. I was hoping he could connect with his illness through art. He was always very afraid of his illness and had a tough relationship with it. He never spoke about it for years. Eventually, I was able to prompt him to speak through art and begin to create a narrative about his experience with illness. That helped him develop a dialog about it with himself. Because I was a diabetic, he felt more comfortable having this dialog with me. So, it was the right thing at the right time to encourage him to exhibit.

This is a piece inspired by Minnehaha Falls (in Minneapolis) where a lot of people commit suicide. I think its sorta representational of when people are on the edge of loosing in the struggle between health & illness.

This piece has some references to Goya’s Black paintings (which are not that clearly visible in the photo). But Goya was amazing and made huge reference to illness in his work.


Goya is the master of illness paintings. A lot of people find him ‘difficult.’ But, I hope that with the pandemic perhaps people can relate to him better. The only piece that I find truly horrifying is the dog painting. The dog painting I have trouble looking at. I find it deeply disturbing.


On syringes…still life’s that include syringes can be notoriously difficult to sell. They attract a certain buyer. I know that when I paint a piece with syringes in it, its going to the recovery community. So, its good to keep that in the back of your mind when you produce such a piece. But, I do have a lot of syringes laying around and they do kinda naturally “make it into” a lot of still life’s. I like their provocative nature for ‘spicing up’ a still life. :laughing: A painting of a bowl of fruit is kinda boring, but a bowl of fruit with a couple of syringes mixed in makes people stop and look at it. Syringes are fun to throw in, but they DO NOT increase the salability of the work, lol.

Sometimes, pieces like that become a conversation or a dialog between different illness communities (which is something that always interests me). So, I did a still life of an empty bottle with a large feather in it. There were syringes scattered on the table top surrounding it. That was meant to highlight how these items that become symbols of illness for one group of people are symbols of health to another group.

I donated it to an event for art sales to benefit recovery to show how syringes might represent something really life threatening to them, but to me, they are a life preserving symbol. I think that a lot of them could relate to the bottle as fairly benign to most people, but very life threatening to some of them. So, it was really a dialog about symbols between different illness communities.


Nice! Thanks for sharing this!

Wow! Thanks, mohe0001, for sharing all this amazing art and giving the context in which it was created and exhibited! It’s really interesting to think about the the intersections/relationships between different experiences of illness, as well as the way certain images and objects take on contrasting symbolism within different communities. Looking forward to checking out the Goya documentary!

This is where I got the dress https://svahausa.com/products/insulin-molecule-fit-flare-dress?_pos=2&_sid=65869fd1c&_ss=r

I got this a few years ago. I have no idea how I came across it originally. I certainly wasn’t looking for it! Apparently it’s sold out now, which is funny…who knew insulin molecule print dresses were so popular!


Thanks Brianna1! Looks like there’s a kids t-shirt with that print available, too.