News Release: Arts and Humanities

Dec. 4,  2008

Engaging Art on View in School of Medicine Building

From Arts@Emory

The Emory University motto, "the wise heart seeks knowledge" (Proverbs 18:15), reflects the University mission to educate heart and mind, but now Emory's School of Medicine (SOM) will be educating the heart, the mind and the eyes.

"Art by the Emory Visual Arts Faculty," the first in a series of compelling art installations developed to reach future doctors and the professionals who train them is on view Dec. 1,2008 through Feb. 28, 2009 in the new SOM Building (1st and 2nd Floor lobbies). The SOM and the Emory College of Arts & Sciences Visual Arts Department with co-sponsorship from the Emory University Creativity & Arts Initiative have collaborated to extend the clinical and classroom experience into the lobby-turned-gallery space. The current show will be augmented by artist- and curator-led lunchtime talks in the coming semester. Plans for next year include the use of art to hone students' observational skills.

"Our new SOM Building, which opened last year, is a space conducive to learning about the entire human – body, mind and spirit," says Dr. William Eley, Executive Associate Dean for Medical Education & Student Affairs, SOM, and member of the Executive Committee of the Emory University Creativity & Arts Initiative.  "The art in our first exhibition is a perfect partner to the study of medicine as it invites us to study the ‘body,' the framework, structure and composition of the artist's work, and ask what was in the ‘mind' of the creator and how do we interpret it?"

This new program began to be developed over the last year during discussions among Dr. Eley; Dr. David M. Schuster, Director, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and

Clinical Director of the Emory Center for Positron Emission Tomography, and Assistant Professor of Radiology, SOM; Dr. Rosemary Magee, University Vice-President and Secretary and Director, University Creativity & Arts Initiative; Dean Robert Paul, Emory College of Arts and Sciences; and Linda Armstrong, Chair, Visual Arts Department, Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

Enlisted by Eley to bring the exhibition, lunchtime talks and an accompanying catalog brochure to life is highly-respected independent curator and contemporary art consultant Julia A. Fenton, who has managed galleries, artists and exhibitions for more than 30 years in Atlanta and in the Pacific Northwest, and curatorial assistant Angus Galloway who holds a BA from Emory College of Arts and Sciences and an MFA from Georgia State University.

The exhibition, which focuses on the human experience and body, features 45 paintings, drawings, mixed-media works, prints and photographs (including one work featuring 80 photographs) by Visual Arts Department Faculty members Lisa Alembik, Linda Armstrong, William A. Brown, Ruth Dusseault, Sarah Emerson, Jason Francisco, Angus Galloway, Diane Solomon Kempler, Julia Kjelgaard, Katherine Mitchell and Kerry Moore. The next exhibition in the series will open in Spring 2009 and will feature the art of medical students, faculty and staff.

The public may view the exhibition during SOM Building public hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.  For information on parking, directions and visiting the exhibition, the public may call 404-712-9979.

This installation is the first in an ongoing series of art exhibitions in the SOM Building and is part of a wave of new and innovative initiatives at Emory to make the arts a part of daily life in the community.  Of the new exhibition series, Rosemary Magee notes that, "Emory hopes that engaging our community – and in this case medical students and health professionals - in the arts and creative processes will enhance all of our abilities to be creative thinkers. This program, along with the work of the Public Art Committee to place more outdoor art on campus and the efforts of other schools such as the Goizueta Business School's Balser Art Collection, are major steps in the plan to integrate the arts into our everyday experience on campus." For more information about the Emory University Creativity & Arts Initiative and its programs, the web site is www.creativity.emory.edu.

Art programs have developed within the medical schools of some other major research universities, including Harvard Medical School's nine-week course in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Yale School of Medicine's partnership with the Yale Center for British Art; a new "mini-elective" course offered by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with the Carnegie Museum of Art and Andy Warhol Museum; and the Frick Collection program with the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

As the Emory SOM weaves art into the curriculum it may be the only medical school currently bringing contemporary art directly into the school setting for this purpose. "As we begin to weave the art discussion groups into our new curriculum in the next few years, we hope to heighten observational skills used in physical examinations, deepen empathy for patients, enhance understanding of the human condition and teach our doctors to look at problems from more than one perspective. Upcoming lunchtime talks with the curator, artists and students are the early stages in developing a more comprehensive curriculum aimed at enhancing students' visual and diagnostic skills such as inspecting, describing and interpreting," says Dr. Eley. 

Medical schools that have incorporated visual art programs into their curriculum have proven the value of such educational approaches through research. A study by Joel Katz and Shahram Khoshbin from the Departments of Medicine and Neurology at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (July, 2008), and an earlier study by Yale Medical School's Irwin Braverman, M.D., professor of dermatology, former student Jacqueline Dolev, M.D., and Linda Friedlander, curator of education, Yale Center for British Art is detailed in Journal of the American Medical Association (Sept. 5, 2001). Katz and Khoshbin found that students receiving the training were likely to make more observations than those in the control group, and showed stronger visual acumen through greater accuracy, complexity and sophistication in what they observed. Braverman, Dolev and Friedlander found that students who received the training improved their detection of details by 10 percent, while control groups showed no improvement in detection of details.

Emory has experienced a steady increase in the number of facilities featuring permanent or temporary exhibitions in recent years. In addition to the new SOM exhibition, Emory currently offers exhibitions in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (permanent collection and temporary exhibitions), the Visual Arts Gallery (contemporary art exhibitions by Emory artists and guests); Schatten Gallery (temporary touring and Library-organized exhibitions) and Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (exhibitions from Emory's special collections) of the Woodruff Library; the Goizueta Business School Balser Art Collection (permanent collection of modern art); Emory Law School Library (temporary contemporary art exhibitions); the Schwartz Center's Chace Upper Lobby (faculty and staff contemporary art) and North Hallway (student and alumni art); Oxford College Art Gallery (guest and Oxford student and faculty art); Cox Hall Computing Lab (student art) and Dobbs University Center (student art).

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