‘Art of Healing Exposition,’ featuring works from World Health Organization and Nashville-area artists, opens Sept. 17

By Jenna Somers

The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy and Vanderbilt’s Master of Public Health Program will open the Art of Healing Exposition on Friday, Sept. 17, featuring works from the World Health Organization’s Art to Act for Health initiative and Nashville-area artists whose work was selected by a panel of judges. The exposition will run until Dec. 16, 2022, and explore how the creative arts can be used as a healing tool in our everyday lives.

Vanderbilt is the first university and teaching hospital in the world to display art from the World Health Organization, which created Art to Act for Health in 2018 with French artist Isabelle Wachsmuth to shed light on societal health disparities and advance health policy. This work explores three important health care themes:

  • “Art Against Violence: From Violence to Resilience from Women’s Perspective,” featuring art, poetry and photography from women artists to address societal health issues with respect to gender equity;
  • “Dare to Act for Health: Personal to Societal Transformation,” paintings and poetry by Wachsmuth to influence health policy and encourage societies and individuals to strengthen health systems and care services; and
  • “Art for Universal Health Coverage,” a reflective group of paintings, poetry, photography and stories to advance health coverage and care for all.

The Art of Healing Call for Art resulted in more than 450 pieces of art submitted by 180 community artists. Over the next 16 months, 250 pieces of art, writing, sculpture and film will be displayed across Vanderbilt’s campus, including at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute, Vanderbilt Divinity School, the Curb Center, the Fine Arts Gallery at the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, at the VUMC main lobby and Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks clinic spaces, and at pop-up exhibits across the city.

While the Art of Healing creators conceptualized the exposition pre-pandemic, the artwork resonates more acutely during this period of recovery due to many artists creating pieces in direct response to feelings of alienation, pain and fear in the community since March 2020. To celebrate the art and artists who contributed to the exposition, the Art of Healing website and Facebook and Instagram accounts will feature a new piece of “daily art” every Monday through Friday for the entire 16 months of the show, and virtual museums will allow the broadest audience possible to enjoy the exposition by showcasing all of the art that was submitted for the show.

Additionally, exposition designers are collaborating with Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and local, regional and national creatives to construct a series of large- and small-scale events that will engage the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities in creative placemaking and educational opportunities that explore the various ways in which the arts can heal and bring people together during this polarizing period of history.

Details about events associated with the Art of Healing Exposition will be shared in the months ahead.

If you would like more information or are interested in becoming involved with the exposition, please contact Kimberly Kane, administrative manager at the Curb Center, at kimberly.kane@vanderbilt.edu, or Sally Bebawy, research programs manager in the Department of Neurology at VUMC and a freelance photographer, at bebawyss@gmail.com.