Community

New Art Space in Neurology Embraces Diversity and Equity

Apr. 23, 2024

The Department of Neurology has opened the doors on a new art gallery that will feature diverse artistic voices. Under the stewardship of noted Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody, the Unity Gallery will leverage art to provoke thought, encourage dialogue, and celebrate the voices, minds, and faces that shape the community and medicine.

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David Paul, MD, and family in the Unity Gallery. The first exhibit in the gallery, titled “Lenses: Art, Coffee, Representation,” consists of works by Paul.

“The population of the United States is not adequately represented in the field of medicine,” said Blanca Valdovinos, MD, associate chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice for the Department who helped lead efforts to create the new gallery. “The Unity Gallery is designed to be a focal point where faculty, staff, residents, and visitors encounter a visual narrative that embodies the inclusivity and diversity integral to the Department's identity and represents the commitment to creating an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

The Unity Gallery is in Department of Neurology’s Joynt Corridor located in 5.4300 in Strong Memorial Hospital and is open to visitors from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on weekdays. The works can also be viewed virtually on the Unity Gallery website.

“Art opens ourselves up to more perspectives, to more cultures, broader ways of thinking about things, and it can build critical thinking skills,” said Bob Holloway, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Neurology.  “Art can build empathy with people, and those are very humanistic traits that not only make us better people, but it can also make us better physicians. Our primary job is to make people feel seen, feel heard, understand their perspectives, walk in their shoes, and then we can partner with them better.”

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The Unity Gallery will consist of a seasonal rotating collection of art. The opening exhibition, titled “Lenses: Art, Coffee, Representation,” features the works of David Paul, MD, who received his medical degree from the University of Rochester in 2016 and completed his residency with the Department of Neurosurgery in 2023. He is currently finishing a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and will return to Rochester in summer 2024 to serve as director of Brain and Spinal Trauma at the Medical Center. Paul is also the founder of Bold and Gritty coffee company.  The exhibit “challenges viewers to confront the stark contrast between societal views of Black masculinity and the untold stories of men who are living each day driven to be the best versions of themselves.”

“The gallery will bring new light on what it means to be a community connected center,” said Dunwoody.  “It will touch people in different ways to inspire them to think differently of how we can engage with medicine, with health, and with art. And I think those synergies will be powerful.”

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Bob Holloway, MD, Shawn Dunwoody, UR President Sarah Magelsdorf, David Paul, MD, and Kathy England.

The gallery is the product of the IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Antiracism, and Social Justice) Council, which was charged to help cultivate a more inclusive environment within the Department of Neurology. These efforts resulted in the project which pays tribute to the pioneering legacy of Robert J. Joynt, MD, PhD, the founding chair of the Department, in the naming of the Joynt Corridor and the creation of The Unity Gallery.

Kathy England served as project manager for the gallery.  The IDEAS Unity Gallery subcommittee members include Valdovinos, England, Cathy Snider, Megan Derry, Giuseppe Erba, Christy Miller, Peter Kapatos, Nabina Shrestha, Linda Cummings, Michael Williams, and Colleen Tomcik.