We’ve been giving you a little here and there about what’s happening over in the Student Health Services building with our Community Art classes’ mural, but we thought it’d be good to get a perspective from the person running the show over there. Brit Black is Director of Student Health Services and along with her crew, make up one incredible team of Doctors, Nurses and assistants that serve and help care for our student body in ways that measure beyond what most of us realize. Britt is the one who originally approached the department about bringing artwork into their space and we definitely did not want to miss out on the opportunity. Though we are a relatively small campus and community, we can still sometimes become isolated from one another, each in our own silo so to speak. It has been wonderful for the Art Dept and SHS to break down that isolation and create a relationship that we think and hope will encourage and inspire much more of the same around campus.
Here are a few questions we posed to Britt with her responses on behalf of Student Health Services.
What prompted you to think about bringing artwork into the Student Health Services Building and how does this fit with your own mission?
Student Health Services’ mission is to develop, serve, treat and teach students. SHS exists to help students with their acute and chronic needs. The physician to Alexander the Great, Herophilus of Chalcedon, summarized it well when he said, “When Health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless and intelligence cannot be applied.”
SHS also exists to teach students about what is health and wellness. SHS wanted to be intentional about 2 goals this year. First, to ask students about what does health and wellness look like to them. Secondly, to engage academic departments in this discussion. SHS desired to ask these questions in a contextual fashion, meaning, the Art Department would be able to use their gifts, experience and strengths of imagery to answer these questions. Students learn what health and wellness looks like to their colleagues as they asked students, staff and faculty on campus. Students learn to collaborate to come to conclusions about what does holistic wellness look like if it were put in image form. This shows that learning is happening in and outside of the classroom.
What are you hoping this mural and the process of it’s creation brings not only to your space, but the students who come through here?
I hope that students who come in to SHS would see that we are an integral part of campus. SHS is not a scary medical place, but one that sees the whole person. The mural is a wonderful discussion piece that begins conversations about what is health and wellness. I believe that this mural will also bring a certain peaceful personality to the waiting room where students and families first come and meet the work that happens in this building. The best part of this is that this mural was not done by some impersonal outside vendor, but rather by students that are learning about art and wellness all at the same time.
What are some of the issues/topics and conversation that is happening in regards to the subject matter and what this mural is all about?
The prime question that I would like to hear from students, staff and faculty is … what does health and wellness look like to you?
I have already heard comments like:
Why is SHS and Art Department doing this project together? (I love out of the box thinking)
Why is the mural in brown and not in color?
What actions do the people represent regarding health and wellness in this picture?