History reflects the intersection of medicine and the arts. The world’s medical community has always been at the forefront of creatively viewing and solving maladies while weaving altruism and expertise. The works of classically trained professionals like Alberto Burri, Charles Bell and Constantin Brancusi are some of the finest examples of the outreach potential for art and medicine. In the present, artists and doctors are still merging medicine and the creative arts, spreading their healing practice through mediums as unexpected as their duality. This article highlights four individuals who gracefully balance this duality.
Emtithal ‘Emi’ Mahmoud
Sudanese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Emtithal Mahmoud is the embodiment of a multi-disciplinarian, balancing her dual degrees in Anthropology and Biology with a win at The Slam Poetry World Championship in 2015 with her poem “Mama.”
Mahmoud and her parents fled Darfur, arriving in the United States in 1998. The blending of poetry, biology, anthropology and activism may seem unlikely. The poet described her thoughts on the synergy in an interview with NPR, “I study people from the inside and people from the outside.”
Through her charitable outreach and activism, Mahmoud brings awareness to the plight of refugees and, more recently, to those the pandemic impacted. Mahmoud performs and hosts poetry workshops, while also visiting field camps. Additionally, Mahmoud is pursuing a career in medicine. However, she plans on continuing her advocacy for awareness about diseases like sickle cell anemia and for refugees.
Dr. Gbadamosi “FolaDavid” Adefemi
Dr. Gbadamosi Adefemi is a speed painter and visual artist, as well as a medical doctor based in Nigeria. Dr. Adefemi fuses the studies of art and medicine to change social beauty standards. Dr. Adefemi has a fascination with the conditions he treats, particularly those visible on the skin of his patients. His eye for the unique leads him to create artistic representations of wrinkles, freckles, stretch marks and other skin features. Dr. Adefemi hopes to make everyone feel good about themselves and their bodies.
The Lagos native began drawing in medical school and eventually became the foremost speed-painter in Nigeria. Dr. Adefemi continues to practice medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes to continue influencing his patients and people everywhere to love themselves through this globally difficult time. In February 2020, he explained the melding of art and medicine to Face 2 Face Africa, “I mainly use my hand to take care of people, to heal them, treat them and make life a lot easier for them. And the same thing I do with my art.”
Dr. Venis Wilder “V. Tiarra”
Dr. Venis Wilder, medical director and performance artist, embodies the concept of bold fusion. Her medical career culminated into a passion for social justice in her South Florida community, and eventually, into her unique sound as V. Tiarra. She creates a blend of hip-hop, pop and R&B elevated with quick social commentary about politics, feminism and relationships. Her career as a medical director allows her to see the social problems in her community firsthand. Dr. Wilder discussed her choice to pursue music, stating, “I feel that sharing through music is a way to affect a larger number of people than I could see day-to-day in my office.”
V. Tiarra describes music as “healing,” and she continues to draw on music’s healing qualities during the pandemic. Most recently, she was a featured performer at the 2020 Blue Gala in Florida and released an album titled “Digital Love” in August 2020.
Dr. Sharanbir Kaur
Dr. Sharanbir Kaur or Sharan, to her friends and family, brings optimism to her patients and to her thousands of fans. The dentist from Delhi describes herself as introverted by nature. Dr. Kaur found that art was a way to connect and motivate people. She feels spreading positivity and a feeling of connectivity is especially important during the pandemic.
Thus, positivity is the force behind Dr. Kaur’s pieces, even those highlighting stressful subjects. “I went through several bad patches. It was during one such bad phase that I found art,” said Dr. Kaur in an interview with eShe. Dr. Kaur is currently splitting her time between clinical hours and illustration. One can view some of her illustrations from her Instagram account titled, the_blue_frenchhorn.
These doctors and artists are paving the way to a brighter future for the global community. Hopefully, more people will aspire to spread positive messages of their own and to pursue interdisciplinary careers.
– Katrina Hall