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Canvas of Compassion: Exploring Art, Medicine, and Health at the Aurora Art Exhibition

by Jesus Delgado ’24 Apr 15, 2024
Aurora Art Exhibit

From quilts honoring families who have suffered perinatal loss to photographs depicting mental health struggles to poems and essays describing patients’ struggles, the Aurora Art Exhibition highlighted stories of medicine and health through several mediums.

In his opening remarks, Stephen Myers, Ph.D., professor and assistant director of the MFA program, outlined several points in arguing why medical professionals should bother with the humanities. 

First, the intersection of health care, narrative, and human suffering is found throughout all great works of literature. Second, the creativity that permits artists and writers to see things from others’ perspectives allows them to grow in compassion and empathy.

Myers also noted that since the arts and humanities already have a fondness for silence, medical professionals connected with these fields develop an appreciation of the power of silence. “When talking with sick people, what truly can you say?” he asked. 

Following Myers’ remarks, there were several live performances by students. Annalise DiCicco, a Swarthmore University first-year student, wrote and performed the song “It Gets Lonely in a Hospital Bed.” 

Inspired by her experience visiting her mother in the hospital and interacting with other families and patients, she found a way to convey that feeling of overwhelming loneliness. 

“Everybody has a song. It might not be a musical song, but there are messages everyone has to share.”

 Annalise DiCicco, Swarthmore University

This intimate connection is exactly what the Students for Health Humanities aimed to foster and highlight during the event. Generally speaking, the group aims to bridge the gap between academic fields to produce more empathetic and compassionate health care professionals and develop new and creative therapies alongside established medical treatments. 

“At the end of the day, everyone is a patient at some point in their lives; we all get sick,” said Faith Chadwick ’24, a medical studies and Spanish double major who serves as president of Students for Health Humanities. 

Manny Beatty ’25, a TV/film major and psychology minor, showcased his short film, which featured different still images and videos imposed over a narrated poem written by his sister. 

“Art and sciences can sometimes feel like they are at odds with each other,” he said. “Events like these show that students are not one-dimensional; they can be both scientific and artistic.”