soldier_facial_woundArt History and Medical Education

Small Moments of Change: Medical Humanitieses
An interview conducted with Art History Chair Jeanette Kohl by Katherine Miller

With the introduction of consistent and effective medical practices in the 1900s patients lived longer, healthier lives. But with the onset of WWI, medical staff encountered a new challenge: patients who survived the trauma of face mutilation but were unable to look at themselves in a mirror. Doctor and academy trained artist Henry Tonks found a solution in using watercolors to paint new representations of his patients. Through his art he was able to create beautiful, touching renditions of their disfigurements, and his patients were able to look at themselves for the first time.

Dr. Jeanette Kohl uses this historic example to show how the humanities can foster human connection. Professor Kohl—Chair of the Art History Department at UCR, and passionate art historian with an interest in the history of the body as well as Renaissance portraiture and sculpture—supports creating more inclusive programs linking the humanities and sciences. Last December she organized “Vesalius and His Worlds: Medical Illustrations during the Renaissances” at The Huntington. She explains how this conference brought together people who were interested in the subject from a collecting point of view, a visual point of view, and an academic point of view. Read More