Medical students and staff, often consumed by the intensive work of labs, lectures, studying, and clerkships, sometimes harbor hidden artistic talents. A student-led exhibit will bring nearly 40 of their works into public view at the Alpert Medical School building beginning Friday, May 15, 2015.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Two years ago, when medical students Sam Klein and Nick Nassikas were feeling out an idea that on Friday will culminate in an art exhibit at the Alpert Medical School building, they learned they weren’t the only ones yearning for more inspiration from the space they called their intellectual home.

“We sent out a couple of surveys,” said Klein, who is now entering his fourth year. “The overwhelming response is the student body wanted to see a little more art in the building. We spend so much time here. They wanted it to serve as an inspiration, maybe a time for reflection and maybe just a break from what they are doing. We are fortunate to have the school administration’s full support of our initiative.”

Nick Nassikas, Samsara
Nassikas is a member of the M.D. Class of 2015.

In fact the school has since hosted a few other exhibitions, but the one Klein and Nassikas have spearheaded with fellow student Ali Rae is the first to feature the work of medical students (and a few staff members). They might wear white coats or scrubs on weekdays, but many are just as likely to trade those for aprons or smocks when precious free time emerges.

“If you look at any cross section of the med school students, they really are an eclectic, creative, incredibly talented group of people,” Klein said. “A lot of those talents are not unearthed in the process of medical education because of how rigorous the didactic part of our life is.”

The Visual Arts Exhibition is organized along three themes: “Gravity and Weightlessness,” “Potential Spaces,” and “Breakdown.” Each evokes medical ideas, Klein said, such as the emotional weight — or lightening — of delivering test results to patients, the structures and chasms within the body, and the fact that the body can fail.

A council of a dozen students juried the works, which include sculptures, blown glass, paintings, sketches and drawings, and photography. Some are literal. Others are abstractions of the themes. They are all skillful and have the potential to inspire students and visitors to think more broadly, or deeply, about medicine, Klein said.

The exhibit launches with a catered evening reception May 15, 2015, at the Alpert Medical School. Student and cellist Elbert Heng will represent the musical artists among the student body by playing at the event.

For at least the next six months, the exhibit will grace the second and third floor atria of the building, while the first floor remains open for rotating exhibits.

Annie Wu, Untitled  (detail)
Pencil on paper
Wu is a member of the M.D. Class of 2017.