Art courses could help medical students become better clinical observers

Observation skills are an essential component of any medical education, aiding doctors during patient exams and in making medical diagnoses, yet several studies have indicated inadequacies in this area among medical trainees and practicing physicians. In an effort to explore ways to improve these skills among medical students, researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), in collaboration with educators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, turned to the field of visual arts to examine if training in art observation, description, and interpretation could be applied to medical training.

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Etruscan Art

The art of the Etruscans, who flourished in central Italy between the 8th and 3rd century BCE, is renowned for its vitality and often vivid colouring. Wall paintings were especially vibrant and frequently capture scenes of Etruscans enjoying themselves at parties and banquets. Terracotta additions to buildings were another Etruscan speciality, as were carved bronze mirrors and fine figure sculpture in bronze and terracotta. Minor arts are perhaps best represented by intricate gold jewellery pieces and the distinctive black pottery known as bucchero whose shapes like the kantharos cup would inspire Greek potters.

The identification of what exactly is Etruscan art – a difficult enough question for any culture – is made more complicated by the fact that Etruria was never a single unified state but was, rather, a collection of independent city-states who formed both alliances and rivalries with each other over time. These cities, although culturally very similar, nevertheless produced artworks according to their own particular tastes and whims. Another difficulty is presented by the consequences of the Etruscans not living in isolation from other Mediterranean cultures. Ideas and art objects from Greece, Phoenicia, and the East reached Etruria via the long-established trade networks of the ancient Mediterranean. Greek artists also settled in Etruria from the 7th century BCE onwards and many works of Etruscan art are signed by artists with Greek names. Geography played its part, too, with coastal cities like Cerveteri due to their greater access to sea trade, being much more cosmopolitan in population and artistic outlook than more inland cities like Chiusi.

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Minoan Art

The art of the Minoan civilization of Bronze Age Crete (2000-1500 BCE) displays a love of animal, sea, and plant life, which was used to decorate frescoes and pottery and also inspired forms in jewellery, stone vessels, and sculpture. Minoan artists delighted in flowing, naturalistic shapes and designs, and there is a vibrancy in Minoan art which was not present in the contemporary East. Aside from its aesthetic qualities, Minoan art also gives valuable insight into the religious, communal, and funeral practices of one of the earliest cultures of the ancient Mediterranean.

The Minoans, as a seafaring culture, were in contact with foreign peoples throughout the Aegean, as is evidenced by the Near East, Babylonian, and Egyptian influences in their early art but also in trade, notably the exchange of pottery and foodstuffs such as oil and wine in return for precious objects and materials such as copper from Cyprus and ivory from Egypt. Thus Minoan artists were constantly exposed to both new ideas and materials which they could use in their own unique art.

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Read also: Mycenaean Art

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Jessie Willcox Smith

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Comedy in the Classroom

Welcome to our resource and inspiration hub for innovative and engaging teaching in higher education. We are a group of academics at the University of East Anglia, UK, using the performing arts and comedy improvisation as teaching tools to immerse students in active learning and create exciting and memorable classes.

This website showcases our award-winning work, explains our rationale, and will offer how-to guides and lesson plans for others to adapt and try the methods out for themselves. We’d love to know what you think and how you get on using these ideas – get in touch and let us know!

Is there room for comedy in the classroom? What is the pedagogical role of the performing arts? Should teachers tread the boards? Can improvisation inspire? and should silliness support student learning? We think so, and we’d like to tell you why.

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Walther Firle

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Art, Origins, Otherness: Between Philosophy and Art

Though our time is often said to be post-religious and post-metaphysical, many continue to seek some encounter with otherness and transcendence in art. This book deals diversely with the issues of art, origins, and otherness, both in themselves and in philosophical engagements with the works of Plato, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Addressing themes such as eros and mania, genius and the sublime, transcendence and the saving power of art, William Desmond tries to make sense of the paradox that too much has been asked of art that now almost nothing is asked of it. He argues that there is more to be said philosophically of art, and claims that art has the power to open up mindfulness beyond objectifying knowledge, as well as beyond thinking that claims to be entirely self-determining.

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