First, a couple things you should know about me. I have a deep admiration and love for the arts. I have privately written poetry most of my life but that is the extent of my artistry. However, artists run in my family, my mother’s grandfather was an influential painter in Bolivia and my father’s cousin is Michael Keaton. Growing up, my parents’ did not push me to participate in sports the way other American parents did, rather, we all would go to art museums and independent films together. And to this day, those are two of my favorite things to do.
I have the honor and privilege of working alongside trained artists who are masters of their craft, whether it’s dancing, directing plays, acting, or photography. They are individually admired for their gifts and collectively they are a powerful force.
My gift is that I love public health. I love it the way I love my children and my family. I fell deeply in love with my profession 15 years ago and whenever I am around public health professionals I beam with pride at their passion and commitment as well as strategic brilliance in serving the underserved.
But how do you marry public health and art, allowing each to retain its identity while also becoming one? How do we move ahead and make an impact in both the world of art and public health? That is where my role lies. That is the piece that separates Kaiser Permanente’s Arts Integrated Resources department from any other artistic organization.
People ask me all the time how I got into this but if you know me then you know this is my dream job. And I am not one to shy away from a challenge. I believe anything worth doing is difficult. Most days I find my role incredibly exciting, I truly mean that, but some days it terrifies me.
I’m working with physicians, researchers, public health professionals, and artists. Together we are focusing on outcomes and how to truly serve our communities using public health practices. There is a scarcity of research about art improving public health outcomes like activating communities to walk/bike more in artistic areas and the use of art in violence prevention and social cohesion.
The way our AIR team sees it, art is the vehicle that moves things from your head to your heart. This is all new territory for me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts about how art has impacted your community or you personally.