If you walk down the hallway and through the rotunda between the dean’s office and the Beaumont Room on the second floor of Sterling Hall of Medicine (SHM), you’ll notice some new faces on the walls. Aperture: Portraits of Women Faculty in Medicine, is a photo exhibit featuring women faculty at the School of Medicine that is on display through January 2020.
Aperture refers to a space or gap, signifying the scarcity, until now, of women on the walls of SHM. It is the first exhibit sponsored by the YSM Committee on Art in Public Spaces (CAPS), chaired by Darin Latimore, MD, deputy dean of diversity and inclusion, and Anna Reisman, MD, associate professor of medicine (general medicine) and director of the Program for Humanities in Medicine.
“Walking to the Beaumont Room has become a very different – and delightful – experience,” says Reisman. “You pass by the stern-faced men in the somber portraits in the dean’s hallway, and then you’re welcomed by these beautiful colorful photographs of some of our women faculty that emanate warmth and brilliance.”
Each of the women featured in the exhibit was asked to provide a statement about advice she would offer her younger self, what she would say to inspire the next generation of women, and what led her to choose her career path. Viewers are invited to submit feedback via a guestbook available at the exhibit or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Besides highlighting women faculty, our hope is that the exhibit will motivate young women to pursue careers in science and medicine,” says Latimore. He recounted how he recently encountered an elementary-school aged African American girl whose grandmother works at YSM. The two read a few of the women’s statements out loud together. “The young lady grew taller and more confident right before my eyes,” he said, adding that she expressed a desire to become a doctor. “She exemplifies why it is important that our art reflects the rich diversity of our communities. I am sure that Aperture allowed her to see what is possible.”
Many of the portraits included in Aperture were commissioned as part of the celebration commemorating 100 Years of Women at YSM in 2018 and donated to the school by photographer Robert Lisak, MFA ’81. Included in the exhibit is a recently unveiled oil portrait of the late Carolyn Walch Slayman, PhD, who was deputy dean for academic and scientific affairs, Sterling Professor of Genetics, and professor of cellular and molecular physiology. A second set of portraits of women faculty will replace those currently on display sometime in August, with a celebratory event planned for September.
Formed in January, CAPS is charged with developing an approach to the artwork displayed in public spaces at YSM that is inclusive, thoughtful, and intentional, reflecting the diversity of the school’s community. The committee’s work is carried out by faculty, students, and staff serving on two subcommittees. The Standards and Process Subcommittee is developing a framework for evaluating the art that is currently on the school's walls, as well as a transparent process for reaching decisions regarding artwork that is displayed on a long-term basis. The Rotating Exhibits Subcommittee is identifying spaces and developing themes for temporary exhibits of works created by members of the YSM and New Haven communities.