Art Observation and Medicine
All first-year medical students from Kansas City University participate in the Art, Observation, and Medicine (AOM) course at Kemper Museum. Guided by volunteer docents, students analyze select works of art using the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) method. VTS uses research-based methodology prompting viewers to work together to solve complicated visual puzzles, beginning with the question, “What is going on in this work of art?”
Students discovered that in answering this question, impressions and interpretations varied widely and were often dependent upon the personal and cultural experiences of the viewer. Through the VTS process and reflection exercises, students learned that collaborative art viewing has the power to challenge assumptions and biases, build empathy, and increase the appreciation for the psychosocial context of the patient, all of which can strengthen close observation, a key skill for medical doctors. They practice drawing inferences and making meaning from what they see, then backing up their assertions with visual evidence.
As you view works of art in this gallery, consider the questions Kansas City University medical students entertain through their AOM course:
What is going on in this work of art?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can you find?
The works in this gallery have been selected because of their narrative quality, which prompts dialogue and discussion among viewers. Images best suited for VTS discussion meet the following criteria: strong narratives, ambiguity with multiple interpretations, and a diversity of media, style, and representation.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to coordinate this exhibition and program in partnership with Kansas City University. We are grateful for their financial support, and for the highly motivated volunteers who serve as docents and facilitate this program. The Kemper Museum Docent Program is made possible by generous support of the Family of Mary Beth Smith.