Skip Navigation LinksHome > June 2011 - Volume 86 - Issue 6 > Artist' Statement: The Face of Illness
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31821ae121
Other Features: Cover Art

Artist' Statement: The Face of Illness

Li, Luke; Carulli, Alexis; Nayak-Young, Sadhana MPhil; Barnosky, Andrew DO, MPH; Kumagai, Arno K. MD

Free Access
Article Outline
Collapse Box

Author Information

At the time of publication, Mr. Li was a third-year medical student, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

At the time of publication, Ms. Carulli was a third-year student, Medical Scientist Training Program, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

At the time of publication, Ms. Nayak-Young was a third-year medical student, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Barnosky is associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine and Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Kumagai is associate professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Medical Education, Office of Medical Student Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; e-mail: akumagai@umich.edu.

The sculpture, The Face of Illness, is an interpretive project from the Family Centered Experience (FCE) program at the University of Michigan Medical School. In the FCE, pairs of students make home visits to patient volunteers who have chronic illness. The students and volunteers engage in a series of conversations about illness and its care. Midway through the first year, students work in teams and use different media to develop projects that express their understanding of the patient's perspective. These interpretive projects allow for reflective exploration of the patient's perspective and an expression through art of insights gained.

Illness affects identity. To reflect this in our project, we first divided a portrait of a woman from the Web site “The Face of Berlin” (http://www.lem-studios.com/WORKS/faceoftomorrow/faceofberlin.htm) into 11 pieces and displayed them as fragments. In the model, the placement of the pieces might seem haphazard, but when viewed from a certain perspective, they come together to re-form an identifiable face. The intended interpretive significance of the model is threefold. First, such a model could represent how fractured the lives of our patients and their families might seem at first and how their stories have given us a new perspective on illness. Second, our patients' families have all taken on roles as patient advocates, to some degree, whether through formal hospital committee involvement or private moments with strangers who might be put off at first by unsightly medical conditions. As such, by explaining how our model needs to be viewed, we are emulating the families' need to clarify or even confront misconceptions about their illnesses. Third, just as our model needs to be appreciated holistically and not just as a random collection of parts, a common theme from our patients and their families is their hope that health care professionals will appreciate them as a whole person, not just as a collection of isolated physical symptoms. Together, The Face of Illness attempts to express our belief that doctors must avoid seeing patients as a collection of diagnostic “parts” and should instead see them as a human whole.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Acknowledgments:

The authors would like to acknowledge the creator of The Face of Berlin, Christian Mahler, for generously allowing the use of a portrait from his project in this model, and Matthew Kloiber for expert photography of the artwork.

Figure. The Face of ...
Figure. The Face of ...
Image Tools

© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges

Login

Article Tools

Images

Share