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“Healing Hands”

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A Visual Art Piece by Ai Yamasaki

This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members. Do you have a poem, short story, creative nonfiction or visual art piece related to medicine that you’d like to share with the community? Send it to us here.

“Healing Hands” by Ai Yamasaki

A Conversation with the Artist

On the inspiration for the piece

This piece, titled “Healing Hands,” was inspired by my third year clinical rotations, which included family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, psychiatry, surgery, and internal medicine. I found that regardless of the service, there was a common theme: the invaluable nature of the physician’s hands in the healing process. I wanted to capture the deliberate actions of the physician as well as the intimate moments of emotional connection and support they had with their patients.

On the art form

This piece is a 5-part series of continuous line drawings. Continuous line is a challenging form because it forces the artist to be courageous and commit to a line. It is also a way to see the big picture and accept imperfections their work. I felt that continuous line was an appropriate way to convey the vulnerability and humanity in each of these situations.

On art and medicine

My mother is an artist and I have always loved to draw. However, I did not take any formal art classes until college, and I immediately took interest in the human form, particularly figure drawing and portraiture. I first started continuous line drawings after learning about Picasso’s one-line drawings of animals. I was fascinated by how much one can capture with just a single stroke on paper. Figure drawing is relevant to medicine and medical practice because it can highlight the innately human experiences of doctor and patient.

On medical humanities

As a member of the second class at a new medical school, I felt empowered and inspired to incorporate the arts and humanities as a part of our medical education. Over the past few years, I have been involved in visual arts and writing workshops as well as panel discussions about the medical humanities, and helped to found an annual arts showcase at our school. I believe that a creative outlet and an appreciation for the human experience nurtures compassionate, patient-centered care.

Ai Yamasaki is a fourth year medical student at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned her BS in Biology at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She has interests in medical education, medical humanities, and preventive medicine. She plans to pursue a career in Pediatrics.

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