Rutgers School of Public Health and Mason Gross School of the Arts collaborate to promote awareness of health disparities

Since health care professionals’ first impression of a patient often is visual, studying the humanities, such as art and writing, has become an integral part of medical education. Viewing art helps train practitioners’ eyes, challenging them to look for details, which can help them scrutinize symptoms or take more innovative approaches.

This year, the Rutgers School of Public Health and Mason Gross School of the Arts collaborated to produce an art exhibition in the School of Public Health. The exhibition features works by Mason Gross visual arts undergraduates that focus on public health concerns, such as social and structural factors that drive health disparities.

“The arts advance our understanding in regard to issues of health as well as to the rights and lives of people. This is because art, by its very nature, is rooted in the expression of activism and social justice,” says Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health. “The art by Mason Gross students is no exception in their powerful representations of health, equity and social justice.”

Some of the five pieces on display speak to the societal and political trends that fuel health disparities in marginalized and burdened populations. For example, “Choice,” a painting by Helen Chen that depicts two hands – one holding pills and the other holding fruit and vegetables – illustrates two alternative solutions for health.

“Our hope is that this pilot will become an ongoing partnership in which the School of Public Health rotates exhibitions periodically in their space,” says Cassandra Oliveras Moreno, administrator of Communications and Collaboration in the Visual Arts Department at Mason Gross.  

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