News Release: School of Medicine

Dec. 3,  2008

Engaging Art on View in Emory School of Medicine Building

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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 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 School of Medicine Building (1st and 2nd Floor lobbies). The School of Medicine 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 School of Medicine Building, which opened last year, is a space conducive to learning about the entire human -- body, mind and spirit," says William Eley, MD, executive associate dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs, 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 Eley; David M. Schuster, MD, 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.

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's School of Medicine 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," says Eley. "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." 


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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