One beautiful feature of the 2022 Healing the Heart of Healthcare Conference was the virtual Art Gallery, which showcased work by more than 40 physicians, medical students, trainees, an art therapist, and others from across the healthcare community.
Each artist expressed the human connection through their chosen medium, including visual art, photography, dance, video, poetry, and narrative writing. They shared stories about navigating burnout, grief, and the pandemic. They illuminated why they chose to work in healthcare, how to counter racist narratives, and visions for a more inclusive future.
Conference registrants are able to view the artwork in three ways through Sept. 2:
- A thoughtfully edited video montage of visual art, video, poetry, and a short documentary offers viewers a “tour” of selected artwork arranged around themes of navigating the pandemic, the conference theme of “Reimagining how we listen, connect, and collaborate,” healthcare professionals’ wellness, and inclusion, pausing to let the penetrating gaze of the subjects wash over the viewer. This video can be viewed in the On Demand section and will be available to all once the conference portal closes.
- A mosaic of individual artists’ pages in the conference online Art Gallery featured recorded presentations of the artists describing their work, with links to their social media profiles or websites.
In addition, everyone can access the artwork now through a free digital catalogue:
- The Art Gallery Catalogue (PDF) included all works procured for the conference, including essays and links to video art. This is available to everyone now in a free downloadable PDF.
The selection of video art included a gorgeous, sprawling range of issues and styles. “Ganesha Invocation,” a traditional opening dance honoring a Hindu god revered as the remover of obstacles, was performed by Pallavi Prabhu, a medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Two stop-motion vignettes poignantly illustrating the experience of homelessness, by artist Bec Sloane, a research assistant at Rutgers Snyder Research & Extension Farm, invites viewers to imagine life without the four walls many take for granted. An animation accompanied by music, by Veronica Yu, a medical student at University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, depicts a designated wellness space created in response to student demands for racial justice, capturing an “ambience of safety, comfort, and camaraderie among the students.” A short documentary by
Chandat Phan, Maria Holstrom, and Michael Larsen, three medical students at Penn State College of Medicine, tells the inspiring story of a patient who battled his daunting diagnosis one step at a time.
In a similar vein, several paintings and poems conveyed the experience of getting to know and retelling a patient’s story through different mediums. Medical student Emily Yan’s work was created out of an intimate course at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, through which she interviewed “oncology patients as they entrust[ed] us with creating art inspired by their stories of strength, vulnerability, and hope.”
In their description accompanying the painting “Zooming Through,” Davy Ran, a medical student at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, reflected about the importance of maintaining the human connection in virtual clinic experiences: “The eye contact across devices was devastating and powerful.”
Several works expressed reflections on why individuals choose to work in healthcare, some describing transformative experiences in their medical journey while others navigated feelings of exhaustion, despair, grief, or the impostor syndrome. Yet many offered glimpses of hope for the future. Describing her photograph “Perspective” which depicts playful shadows, Dr. Divya Vangala, a Clinical Associate in the Department of Pediatrics at Duke Children’s Hospital, felt that the scene “captured an ephemeral reminder of joy.”
In recognition of their important work in the early days of the pandemic, a portrait series by artist June Van Dunk displayed evocative, large-scale charcoal portraits of emergency room healthcare workers, created as a gift to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York.
These inspiring works demonstrate the dynamic capacity of individuals to listen, reflect, establish connections, and retell the stories of other humans they interact with in the healthcare setting and beyond, offering us a healing vision of hope for the future.