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The Very Picture of Good Health
Without healthcare reform, some have to get married to get covered, reads a poster by Liz Wikstrom 12 IL
In March RISD will host Make
It Better: a Symposium on Art, Design and the Future of Healthcare. The two-day conference, March 11-12, is
sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and brings together leading artists, designers
and activists with policymakers, health professionals, entrepreneurs and the
general public to explore the role of art and design innovation in healthcare
delivery, public health and everyday wellness.
According to Deborah Bright, RISD’s Dean of Fine Arts, “We
are asking questions such as: How can artists and designers contribute to
public discourse on the complex issues associated with health and healthcare –
from medical and ethical considerations to economic, political and cultural
Also thanks to RISD,
there will be some additional voices at the table. On display outside the RISD
Auditorium will be student projects from Making It Understandable, a Wintersession class that looked at how visual communication can be used
to help explain the complexities of healthcare reform to the general public in more
readily accessible ways.
Taught by Lindsay
Kinkade MFA 10 GD, who brought her background in journalism and an interest
in public policy, the class incorporated visits from healthcare policy experts,
including Rhode Island’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts. During the six-week studio, students tackled the
problem of how to convey a raft of complex information – much of which is not
understood, even by policymakers, to help the general public make decisions
about their healthcare.
Stephen Goetschius MID 11 and Camilla Fucili MID 11 collaborated on a
stop-motion animation that evokes Schoolhouse
Rock in its lighthearted yet pragmatic explanation of the new legislation’s
Liz Wikstrom12 IL's medical supply-inspired jewelry (a jewel-encrusted
inhaler and gold-leaf, fur-lined finger splints) became the basis for a poster
campaign to convey the social commentary that without healthcare reform, basic
medical services are still an unattainable luxury for many people.
Abarca-Grimsley MA 12 created a
booklet in Spanish called ¿sabía usted? (Did you know?) for RI’s Latino
community, a “minority” that constitutes more than 10% of the state’s
population. As part of her project, she also designed collateral showing how
the booklet can be advertised at bus stops and made available online via an
“open-source” model in addition to distributing print copies at community
clinics and other traditional venues.
When Lieutenant Governor Roberts visited, she spent most of
an afternoon offering constructive suggestions for how the prototypes could be developed
into effective tools for policymakers or for outreach to Rhode Islanders,
150,000 of whom have no health insurance.
“The dialogue around healthcare reform has focused too much
on its technical aspects and not enough on human value,” Roberts said. “It’s
really about social change, ethics, values and fairness. We don’t talk enough
about these things.”
According to Kinkade, this
is where the real value of a RISD education shines through. “The thing that sets
our work apart,” she said, “is that it’s made by hand. This doesn’t happen in
policy land where everything is graphed in Excel or PowerPoint. These projects
are accessible and human-scale and speak directly to people.”
She continued, “What does it
mean that all these students can now talk about healthcare policy? And what
does it mean when the Lieutenant Governor is talking about design?”
It means the message is
starting to get through.
Keep the conversation going at Make It Better, March
11-12, 2011 at Rhode Island School of Design. Admission is open to the public
and free of charge, but requires advance registration.
Watch Healthcare Reform: The Next Generation a stop-motion animation film
by Stephen Goetschius MID 11 and Camilla Fucili MID 11
, Graphic Design
, public engagement