Jack Kevorkian, also known as “Dr. Death,” was born in 1928 in Pontiac, MI, and received a medical degree with a specialty in pathology from the University of Michigan in 1952. Starting in 1990, he assisted in some 130 suicides, and was eventually stripped of his license to practice medicine and arrested and acquitted multiple times.
Disturbingly, footage from one case showed Kevorkian pushing the plunger on his home-made assisted suicide device instead of allowing the person to do it himself. In 1999, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years. He was released eight years later, and died on June 3, 2011.
Kevorkian liked to paint, and his collected works are housed and sometimes displayed at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown, MA. ALMA preserves and displays works of Armenian history and culture. Kevorkian’s parents were Armenian refugees.
The more than one dozen paintings feature mostly macabre images, including a decapitated man about to feast on his own head and a corpse wrapped in Christmas garland. Kevorkian also has a series of works that portray conditions such as coma, paralysis, and fever in metaphor. His works were often bright, cartoony, and full of visual puns and overt symbolism…for instance, the iris that grows through the eye socket of a skull in his painting "Very Still Life", or when a broken scale of justice throws the shadow of a cross on the wall in Double Cross of Justice.
At present, there are only four works in the museum's permanent collection: "Genocide", "The Broken Scales of Justice", "Fa La La La La" and "The Gourmand." The other 13 works are now in Michigan.
Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker