Opalka Gallery launches pilot program with Russell Sage Department of Nursing


Upon entering the Opalka Gallery, viewers are immediately greeted by a series of four breast cancer patient torsos by Clarity Haynes. The paintings are paired with a silent video of Haynes painting the portraits, transforming the featured women from objects hanging on a gallery wall into animated subjects with names, voices and personalities.

The gallery’s new exhibition “Certain Bodies: Subject, Object, and Identity in Nursing, Medicine, and Art” explores the role of the body as object to be studied and subject, the actual human being, in the art – a duality of healthcare professionals also navigate when assessing patients. This shared connection between the worlds of art and medicine was a deliberate background to the curation of the exhibit, which complements a new pilot training program between Opalka and the Department of Nursing at Russell Sage College.

“I hope this is the start of a relationship where they see us as a resource in their academic process,” said Judie Gilmore, Opalka Gallery’s Director of Special Programs.

Opalka Gallery and the Department of Nursing wanted to do a kind of collaboration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Department of Nursing. The idea of ​​a nursing-focused exhibit was floated, but Gilmore wanted to do something more interactive between the gallery and nursing students and faculty.

“Certain Bodies: Subject, Object, and Identity in Nursing, Medicine, and Art”

  • When: Reception open 6-8pm on November 11; until January 7
  • Where: Opalka Gallery, Russell Sage College, 140 New Scotland Ave, Albany
  • admission is free and open to the public

“A Conversation with Author Rachel E. Gross and Artist Armando Veve: Visual Inspiration for Rachel E. Gross’ ‘Vagina Obscura'” co-sponsored by Opalka Gallery and the Women’s Institute at Russell Sage College

  • When: November 15 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Opalka Gallery, Russell Sage College, 140 New Scotland Ave, Albany
  • Registration: Pre-registration is available, but not required, on line. Admission is free and open to the public.

After falling down a rabbit hole of articles and research on integrating the arts into medical education, Gilmore proposed adding a Visual Thinking Strategies Curriculum, an arts education model that uses discussions visual arts animations to improve observation, communication and critical thinking skills, in the nursing department curriculum. Research has shown that these arts-based programs improve clinical assessments of patients by medical students, she said. The nursing service was there.

Gilmore and Amy Griffin, Acting Director of Opalka, will use a series of neutral, non-judgmental questions to guide nursing students through viewing and discussing the works featured in “Some Bodies.” There is no “right” answer to questions, Griffin said.

“If you get what the artist is trying to get across, that’s fine,” she said. “But if you get anything else, I imagine most artists would be happy to know. (Visual Thinking Strategies) is great to have a way to talk about art for people who don’t normally talk about art .

The system can be applied to any art – a VTS study with Harvard Medical School in 2005 used a painting by Jackson Pollock to study texture and pattern, for example – not just works that focus on the body human, although Gilmore intentionally organized “Some Bodies”. to support the new program.

“I thought for this first pilot, let’s make it really accessible to nursing students by putting something about the figure into it,” she said.

Some works presented in “Some Bodies”, which runs from November 11 to January 7, are directly related to the medical world. A video and a series of photographs by Corinne Botz were created from training sessions for medical students where actors posed as patients, and Armando Veve’s graphite drawings of clitoris, ovaries and neurons in surreal sci-fi settings merge the anatomical with the fantastic. Others look at the body from a non-medical perspective, including Sarah Sweeney’s ‘Reimagining Erica’, a controversial examination of autonomy and ownership in a digital world via an Instagram account that edits images of ‘a woman cut out from photos uploaded by a stranger to a public Flickr album.

Gilmore and Griffin hope the pilot will be successful so the program can continue with future exhibits on any subject, not just the human body.

“Art isn’t just a luxury, it’s a real tool,” Gilmore said. “It can be used for all sorts of things.”


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