Medicine and Art

Art is Medicine Poster 2012 Web 1Have you ever wondered if there is any correlation between fine arts and professional careers? I strongly believe that the arts are essential for the greatest success in professional careers. Art can help students think more creatively and “outside of the box.”  Indeed, in my own research laboratory, I find that the most creative students are those who either double e major in the sciences and one of the fine arts, or minor in one of the fine arts.  Many policy makers are embracing the idea of the creative economy—many cities, including our own Winston-Salem, have establish arts districts and created links between design schools and their cities (e.g., http://www.centerfordesigninnovation.org/welcome/index.php and http://www.dadaws.org/).

Art can inform and enhance understanding in many aspects of professions such as medicine.  One of our alums, Jacob Blackwell has stated emphatically that “yes, it can.”  Jacob is now in medical school.  At Wake, he took the Introduction to Painting course with Art Professor Page Laughlin.  In her course, Professor Laughlin asserted that the arts were important to medicine in a literal sense.

In an email to her, Jacob affirmed her assertion, stating, “…not only did my anatomy professor harp on the concept of contrast when discussing the modalities of radiological imaging on the second day of class, but he also used works by Murillo, Renoir, Joseph Mallord William Turner, and Monet to demonstrate various points. At least once a week, some form of artwork makes it into our lectures. Most recently Dr. Riddle drew distinction between works by Jackson Pollick and a histological view of loose irregular connective tissue.” art_of_medicine_01

At Wake Forest College, a liberal arts college, we require students to take a course in the Fine Arts.  We believe that an understanding of the world is informed and enhanced by education in the arts.  Our classes and programs build connections between the arts and other disciplines.  Whether we engage through science and art, through art and business or arts and humanities, a Wake Forest education builds these intentional links.  Our distinctive courses and programs, such as the Student Union art buying trip, the art management course, and link between Casa Artom and the Venice Biennale, are examples of intentional links between the fine arts and other disciplines in a Wake Forest education.

So, readers of this blog, what are your thoughts on the connections between the fine arts and the professions or other disciplines?  Have you seen instances where careers and professions are impacted by background knowledge and understanding in the fine arts?

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