The Patient Gaze. Drawing as slow looking

    Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


    This Lecture and workshop were given during the Research afternoon "Painting as Medicine."

    This workshop tackles the question of how health professionals (whose work heavily relies on visual literacy) could benefit from the act of drawing. It starts from the premise that drawing from observation is a process of slow looking that unfolds over time. Drawing from observation makes us aware of our everyday habits of perception by accentuating the ways in which this perception is selective and how it is shaped by the way we have been trained to look. This workshop examines historically and in practice how the methods and objects of medical/artistic education, exposes the relation between perception, representation and education.

    Since the Renaissance, the lifelike representation of human bodies has been the main object of artists, and became the criterion to judge the quality of artwork. While the aim was the imitation of nature, this imitation was also highly selective and based on a canon of idealized proportions. Drawing training therefore was mostly done with the aid of inanimate objects: prints, drawings and plaster casts, as well as wax models and lay figures (see photograph). Although it seems simple, the practice of drawing blurs the boundaries between person and object, between observation and construction. In the past drawing was also part of medical education, drawing after preparations and the cadaver as a whole. Nowadays looking at art and drawing once again enters medical curricula, because this not only enhances observational skills, but also increases the empathic and reflective skills of medical professionals. Moreover, looking at art exposes how the clinical gaze is trained and only one of a vast variety of ways of looking.

    In this workshop we frame the act of drawing transhistorically - moving from classical mythology to nineteenth century art academies to contemporary practices - to show how drawing as slow looking can increase awareness of our different (habitual) modes of observation. In a hands-on session you are invited to experience and examine processes of slow looking through drawing.
    Please bring a pencil (HB and B), we will provide the rest.
    Gehouden opGroningen Centre for Health and Humanities, Faculty of arts (RUG), Netherlands