The Fine Arts and Health Care – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

The Fine Arts and Health Care

Director of Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Stephanie Brown Clark will present a workshop, titled “Paintings and Patients: What the Visual Arts Can Teach Healthcare Professionals.” The workshop will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, in Stern 103. The event is the final installation of the “Vital Connections: Health Sciences and the Humanities” lecture series.

“Dr. Brown Clark’s interactive session “Paintings and Patients: What the Visual Arts Can Teach Healthcare Professionals” will, in the spirit of the Colleges’ interdisciplinary curriculum, demonstrate a unique connection between visual studies and healthcare,” explains Visiting Professor of English Sarah Berry. “As a culture, we tend to define healthcare narrowly in scientific terms, and we tend to define art as a creative endeavor that has nothing to do with science. Dr. Brown Clark teaches medical students at the University of Rochester that art has a lot to teach clinicians.”

The idea for Brown Clark’s talk came from URMC’s program, “Art and Observation,” which offers alternating sessions at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester and the medical center focusing on observing art one week and observing a patient the next. Aimed at teaching students the skills of observation, the class also helps students develop descriptive skills, hone self-awareness and encourage self-disclosure in a safe environment. 

“I’m not trying to make better people,” explains Brown Clark in the 2008 edition of the Rochester Review. “I’m trying to make better doctors.”

An associate professor at URMC, Brown Clark is the co-author of “John Romano and George Engel: Their Lives and Work” and “Body Language: Poems of the Medical Training Experience.”

With a bachelor’s and master’s in English literature from the University of Western Ontario, a higher diploma in Anglo-Irish literature from Trinity College, an M.D. from McMaster University and a Ph.D. in medical history and English literature from the University of Leiden, Netherlands, Brown Clark is well-versed in the ways in which art and medicine intersect.

This lecture series is sponsored by a grant from the Deans and the Provost’s offices. Organized by Associate Professor of Chemistry Justin Miller and Berry, this workshop is offered to help create interdisciplinary programming and curriculum between the health professions minor and the humanities.