Art and science may seem at opposite ends of the spectrum, but when they come together they can create a great deal of good. In a new exhibition in London, called “Foreign Bodies, Common Ground,” we see the work of six artists-in-residents with Art in Global Health Program.
Their work, mostly in developing nations in Africa, brought humanity to healthcare and decreased skepticism in the locals. Although their approaches were vastly different, a unified goal was kept at the heart of their work: bring the community and scientists together.
In one case, artist Elston Kambalu came upon an unusual and poignant problem. In a place where doctors were feared and medical terms had no translation, he needed to find a way to show the residents of small African communities that they and the doctors wanted the same thing: to improve their health.
He worked with women and children to create traditional artwork showing their experience with healthcare. He also created some of his own work to depict more complex ideas of medicine in an easily understandable way.
Their art brought the community together in accepting that the doctors did indeed want to help them. In this case, art may have saved lives.
Each of the six artists had a similar story of bringing understanding to both the community and to the medical staff. This collaboration of art and science has done what each couldn’t do independently – save lives by bringing people together!