From a medical perspective, the body can be broken down into individual systems and pieces: organs, tissue and cells.

When Marcia Doty worked in a clinical lab at Indiana University Health, she looked at the base units of the blood and bone marrow, searching for signs to help diagnosis leukemia and lymphoma.

But as an artist, her view of the human figure and body was different.

“On the science side of things, everything is exact. With art, you can be more free and express yourself more. You play around more,” she said.

Doty has based her artwork on the human form, finding joy in capturing the expressions, movements and body language of people in a variety of settings. After retiring after 37 years as a clinical lab scientist, the Fortville resident has renewed her passion for art.

Her figurative work is the focus of an exhibition at the Southside Art League Off Broadway Gallery showing through the end of March.

Art has been an interest of Doty’s for much of her life. Even as she worked towards her degree in medical technology at Indiana University, Doty’s favorite class in college was art history.

“That should have told me something,” she said, laughing.

I’m fascinated by people’s faces and gestures, that type of thing, more than landscapes or still lives.

—Marcia Doty

Her professional life was dedicated to clinical lab science. Doty specialized in flow cytometry, analyzing blood and bone marrow using specialized laser-equipped machines to count white blood cells.

Before coming to Indiana, she had worked in a lab in California, where she helped diagnose and treat AIDS patients in the early stages of that epidemic.

“It was quite a scary time in those days,” she said.

But Doty never forgot about her interest in art. When her children were out of the house and attending college, she finally had more time to devote to art as a hobby. She started taking lessons, eventually finding a niche at the Indianapolis Art Center. She would use her vacation time to take a break from the lab and express her creative side.

Her interest in people was at the forefront of her work. Doty has always taken photographs of people — friends, family, even people she didn’t know who interested her.

The first serious art classes she took were portrait classes. As she developed her skills, she was able to hone her ability to capture interesting people in oil paint, acrylic and pastel.

“I’m fascinated by people’s faces and gestures, that type of thing, more than landscapes or still lives,” she said.

Doty is constantly on the watch for an interesting subject for her work. During a trip to New York, she spotted two people sitting on a bench in Central Park. That became an inspiration for a painting.

Another time, watching her grandson’s basketball team play, she was struck by the way the group of boys held themselves while on the losing side of the game.

Most recently, Doty was traveling in Mexico. During breakfast one day, she spotted a young girl whose posture and poise caught her attention.

“Something about the person in the photo grabs you, so that’s what I want to do,” she said.

Doty is a member of the Southside Art League, having found out about the organization after taking a lesson from noted Indianapolis artist Donna Shortt. Shortt encouraged her to join.

She still takes lessons in Greenwood at the art league, and her involvement led to her being the featured artist for March in its gallery.

“I hope that people that see my work and enjoy it, and appreciate the work that I put into getting where I am now,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful journey for me to get to this point.”

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.