What do the arts and healthcare have in common? The answer – a ton…please let me tell you a story.
Earlier this week I was in New York on business. Once I had everything buttoned up I visited two museums – Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. Both incredibly well curated, but two different experiences; my favorite being the Guggenheim.
The Guggenheim is unique in that a genius designed something that the world only gets to experience once. In the interest of keeping this simple, I’ll quickly explain if you haven’t been there. All museums are designed to encourage patrons to flow from one boxy room to the next. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim with a massive atrium and a circular ramp that turns counter-clockwise along the perimeter like fusilli pasta until its inevitable end at the top.
The artist on display during my visit was Alberto Burri. Let me preface what I’m about to say with this – I’m a lover of abstract art. I’ve studied Mark Rothko for years and I proud to say I’m obsessed. I literally travel around the U.S. taking photos of his work and I together (Chicago on the left in 2014 and New York on the right in 2015).
So we’ve established that. But, Burri’s work is VERY abstract. How abstract? Well this is just one man’s opinion – it’s emotionally uncomfortable and aesthetically demanding. I physically didn’t feel well around it. Suffice to say, it’s challenging and downright angered some people.
See what I mean? Not exactly Monet’s gardens at Giverny.
But something interesting happened…something that could have ONLY happened at the Guggenheim. As I walked up the exhibit I was confused and upset. Of all the artists that could have been on display, I was there to see an artist I didn’t know and certainly didn’t like (nor understand).
As I approached the top and thus, the end of the exhibit, I had a choice: get on the elevator or walk back down. I chose to walk down…and that’s when it happened. I saw the entire exhibit once again, but from a different point of view.
As I walked back down and around those concentric circles I was forced to look at everything from a different point of view. Whereas I saw a work from right to left on the way up, I now saw it left to right on the way down. I also saw it from a different angle. And once I realized it was going to take a while to get to the bottom, I started reading about each piece (you know what I’m talking about…those little signs next to a painting with the history that no one looks at).
Before I knew it I had an entirely different opinion of Alberto Burri. Why? Because I saw his work from a different point of view and I took my time. I was forced to admit that I made up my mind before I gave his work a chance.
Isn’t that part of the problem in healthcare? Rarely are we looking at things from a different point of view and Lord knows we’re not taking our time. It took me a few hours at the Guggenheim to realize this.
This is why the arts are important. How can anyone go through life without exposure to the profound effect that arts have on the soul and mind? I believe part of the solution to changing healthcare, particularly in the organ transplant space, is to bring together minds from different fields.
I’m not a healthcare person. I’m the brother of a young man who died from not receiving a heart transplant in time. I’m an outsider and that alone is reason enough to hear my voice. If we’re serious about changing healthcare, we must slow down and accept there are different ways to see things.
Sincerely, The Graduate (at Brown)