Tahani Baakdhah is a neuroscientist, science communicator, crafter, and author from Saudi Arabia. Focusing most of her work and research on glaucoma and retinal regeneration at the University of Toronto, in Canada, she uses her artistic skills to crochet models related to the world of sciences. According to Tahani Baakdhah, art can be used to teach scientific notions through a powerful and creative medium.
“With every stitch, we learn new information that will transform our understanding and fight misinformation”
The story of Covid19, stitch by stitch, 2020, is a series of crocheted models to inform a large audience on the science behind the pandemic. “With every stitch, we learn new information that will transform our understanding and fight misinformation”, explains Tahani. She hopes that her artistic work will help comfort people and spread quality scientific information about the pandemic.
Women of science have often used crocheting and clothes stitching to help understand complex scientific processes and facts. This was the case of pioneering French midwife Angélique du Coudray (1712-1794) who created a mannequin of textiles to teach trainee midwives on all steps of properly attending childbirth. At that time, female midwives were barred from medical studies. In 1759, du Coudray published a midwifery manual “Abrégé de l’art des accouchements” illustrating important manoeuvres to preserve the safety of women and their new-borns at the moment of birth.
Her trainees practiced various manipulations in mock births on the life-size obstetrical mannequin and were well prepared to handle dangerous situations, such as with twins and breech presentation. Du Coudray succeeded against the opposition of male surgeons when Louis XV recognized that she was instrumental to reducing chid mortality and commissioned her to travel across France to teach the art of midwifery. She taught thousands of students and even male medical doctors and became a symbol of French medical progress.