In an introduction, Aaron Levy , a senior lecturer in the English and History of Art departments and director of Health Humanities Initiatives at Penn Medicine, showcased an unidentified Medieval painting that portrayed three “plague saints” during the era associated with the bubonic plague. It could be explained as a means of soliciting a sense of protection, or of gratitude for survival. It could, moreover, be seen as the way associated with learning from the burdens of the world.
“But also, ” he said, art could be seen “as a means to navigate one’s own suffering. ”
That’s a practice that will continues today, he explained, especially in times of our own plague.
Levy opened a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary dialogue on Saturday, Oct. 22, inside the Penn Museum , about the role of the arts in human healing plus flourishing, especially in context of the particular pandemic. Speakers at the event included, in order of appearance: James Pawelski , a professor of practice and director of education at the Penn Center for Positive Psychology ; Marion Leary , movie director of innovation in the School of Nursing ; Chris Gruits , executive and artistic director at Penn Live Arts ; plus Anjan Chatterjee , movie director in the Penn Center with regard to Neuroaesthetics and a teacher of neurology, psychology, plus architecture within the Perelman College of Medication .
Garnishment opened by discussing not only the particular role associated with art in times of peril, but the power of narration. He cited his interdisciplinary work with Penn Medicine through the Listening Lab , an online storytelling initiative with audio stories from staff, providers, patients, chaplains, and caregivers. The Laboratory tells stories of cancer, COVID-19, racism, and other “pressing issues” associated with our time, he said. Levy spoke of it as an initiative that translates narratives regarding shared humanity.
He added, setting the stage intended for the talks to follow: “The story can also be a threshold that helps us bear witness to the intensity of suffering and the search to get meaning, joy, and thriving that is ultimately central in order to the aspiration of medicine as well as the arts. ”
Levy then introduced Pawelski, who is the particular founding director of the Humanities and Human Flourishing Project within the Good Psychology Middle. He embarked on a discussion with the “positive humanities, ” defining this as a new field of inquiry plus practice concerned with the relationship between culture and human flourishing. He emphasized the impact on the arts and humanities on wellness, invoking words from art historian and curator Nathalie Bondil that makes the point that, a century ago, it was not widely accepted that sports, as an exercise of physical conditioning, is a healthy activity. Pawelski emphasized the importance of broad collaboration and scientific research to effect this change.
He referred to a survey he and his team conducted during typically the height associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that will asked to what extent the arts and humanities helped those surveyed to cope with the coronavirus outbreak. A positive response was correlated with higher outcomes on virtually every element of well-being measured, from satisfaction with life to optimism, and through meaning in addition to purpose to a sense regarding community.
Pawelski said his current work is focused on this effects of humanities on well-being, art museum visits on well-being, arts and cultural engagement upon the development of Black youth, and music on human flourishing. He is also working on the role of often the positive humanities in reducing the threat of mass shootings—a collaborative project along with the FBI.
The latter may seem like an unlikely pairing, this individual acknowledges, but he argued it is one that makes sense if we consider the tendency of mass shooters in order to rely on negative cultural sources for support.
“There’s a cultural component to this particular, so we’re working with your FBI to be able to understand how the positive humanities may help us understand how for you to encourage folks in that situation to take better paths in culture, ” he stated, explaining they might otherwise seek out communities based on songs extolling violence or on the manifestos involving previous mass shooters. “How to encourage the rest of us to make more available these positive paths for them. ”
Next among the speakers, Leary detailed the Nursing Story Slam project, supported by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation . It’s one connected with several examples she gave of how the School with Nursing will be engaging the exact power for storytelling.
“Stories allow us to help process our very own experiences, and at no time has of which been [in greater need] than these types of past couple of years of the pandemic, ” she said. “They also permit us to amplify work nurses are doing every day. Nurses are at the bedside, but also in board rooms, courtrooms, research labs, startups, the particular military, Congress, all these kinds of places and even so many [others]. ”
She also spoke of this Frontline Health Workers Digital Theater Project , which included reflections about life during the pandemic together with culminated inside two original plays put on virtually by professional actors in New York and Philadelphia.
“We were able to really show audiences what it was like with regard to health care workers throughout the pandemic, both inside the hospital and in their own personal lives in the creative, different way, ” she mentioned.
Gruits then gave a new theoretical overview of the intrinsic and instrumental values of your arts—noting that he is often asked the “value” of this performing artistry. He cited the “intrinsic” value as the ideas and observations about our world; the a key component, meanwhile, might be considered often the economic impact belonging to the arts—the ripple effects that invigorate urban cores and restaurant industries surrounding theaters. But also, he or she added, less-considered effects like increased cross-cultural understanding, social impact, or even the kinds from cultural diplomacy that take place between nations and their leaders.
But your intrinsic, because of exactly how difficult it can be to quantify (while citing a 2007 study the fact that attempted in order to do so), shouldn’t be ignored.
“I think in this way all of us can measure intrinsic value and its impact on numerous levels, and additionally we can assert several works of art move us toward something higher at the exact best of times, or in the very least exist as some sort of reminder of our collective human being potential, creativity, and spirituality, ” Gruits said. “The works associated with art or experiences are usually markers on the way to understanding our existence and what it means to be human; they serve as thresholds for self-understanding and play an important role within our existence. ”
Finally, Chatterjee spoke of the nature of aesthetic experiences through a scientific lens, recalling his “aesthetic triad” model, which theorizes a relationship between knowledge and meaning, the sensory and motor, and emotion and valuation as making up the aesthetic experience.
He also spoke within the built environment as the majority of where our time is spent plus the effect of that.
“We’re embedded in space all the time, not to mention this came to the forefront during the pandemic when people were confined to be able to their homes, along with the way your environment has a huge effect on your sense regarding well-being, ” Chatterjee explained. “And this is something we don’t think about very much or even not a lot of thought is given to it. What is the nature of a space which is inside the background and has an impact on how you function? ”
Before closing out the event, the particular panelists gathered for a good brief Q& A discussion, exactly where the panel was requested from typically the audience in relation to how for you to measure this impact involving cultural centers on wellbeing.
“I think it’s a fantastic question and something we continue to work in, ” answered Pawelski, describing it as an effort that may never field an exact, universally agreed upon answer. “It’s not like the Pythagorean theorem. Rather, it’s an ongoing conversation. ”
Another question fielded was about how to help get people who are averse to experiencing culture, particularly contemporary arts, to open their minds to new ideas. Gruits advised adding as much context to the experience as possible, especially before your visit in order to, say, some museum or a performance. Chatterjee, meanwhile, advocated for museums as places of enhanced “fascination, ” but noted that these people still need to give more consideration to “homeliness. ”
“It’s something museums don’t pay enough attention to and may be a way in which museums can be off-putting, ” Chatterjee said.
“I think some explicit and strategic thought around the notion connected with ‘homeliness’ can be important because it gives you the safety and also the platform on which usually people can then delve into the fascinating part with exhibits, ” he added.
Levy concluded that home repair and humanities may become entering a fabulous “paradigm shift” moment—a time to, they said, “think about just how we integrate home remodeling into spaces people previously didn’t feel included or think that of as spaces amenable to social engagement. ”