Creighton students have teamed with a global foundation to create a New York City art exhibition portraying the beauty and humanity of people whose physical appearances can lead to discrimination and exclusion.
The “A Portrait of Medical Humanities” exhibition is a joint production of Positive Exposure, Creighton’s Richard L. Deming, MD, Endowment in Medical Humanities and the Dr. Tom Kirsch Advancement of Visual Arts Fund.
Positive Exposure, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1998 by award-winning photographer Rick Guidotti, portrays people living with various genetic disorders. For the past 25 years, Guidotti has gathered photographs from all 50 states and from more than 100 countries.
His collaboration with Creighton stems from a visit to Omaha in September when he took photos of Nebraskans with genetic disorders and displayed them at the University’s Lied Art Gallery. Students noticed and became the motivating force behind the New York City exhibition.
Rachel Mindrup, MFA, Creighton’s Richard L. Deming, MD, Endowed Chair in Medical Humanities, partnered with Positive Exposure in February 2023 when she provided portraits for “The Many Faces of Neurofibromatosis,” also held at the New York City gallery.
She says the current exhibition unites art and science by encouraging science students to embrace the arts. The exhibition, she says, consists of approximately 40 pieces of art created by 33 students drawn from the Creighton School of Medicine’s Omaha and Phoenix campuses, the College of Nursing, the School of Dentistry, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Among these is Sydney Dang, BS’21, BA’21, a first-year medical student at Creighton’s Phoenix campus who says the exhibition illustrates the importance of personal narratives.
“I wanted to find a meaningful way to connect my art degree with my future path in medicine,” she says. “This led to interviewing and drawing three Creighton medical students whose portraits and narratives taught me we all bring unique skills and attitudes into the world of healing.
“Stories are what connect us, and I believe that translates into prevention of provider burnout and better patient care.”
Mindrup says she hopes the exhibition inspires reflection.
“I hope it’s a great conversation starter,” she says. “Rick’s invitation to Creighton students to reflect on their encounters in a visual way was the catalyst to get these artworks created.”
The exhibition is creating a stir, Mindrup says, with students from the State University of New York and Albert Einstein College of Medicine scheduled to view the works along with Creighton students and their families who are traveling to New York City for the occasion.
“Rick called already to say how blown away he was at the work produced,” Mindrup says. “So, besides being a thoughtful and reflective exhibition, it’s also visually stunning. The artwork being created by our undergrads and our students in the different professional schools is really remarkable.”