May 31, 2023
Lexington artist shares vision for ‘Interconnectivity’ mural in Medical Center Library
Christine Kuhn is a Lexington-based artist who created “Interconnectivity,” a mixed-media art piece that displays in the Medical Center Library. The artwork was created with support from the Herman Lee and Nell Stuart Donovan Memorial Trust.
In the following Q&A, Kuhn outlines her vision for the piece and how it can help us explore the checkered past of medicine to create a better, more inclusive future.
Q: How would you describe your artistic style?
A: I create sophisticated, limited palette works that explore history and the history of thought. “Interconnectivity” explores the history of our relationship to our bodies and to the bodies of others and also how we have thought about sickness and healing over time and cross culturally. How we think about things creates our reality.
One question explored in “Interconnectivity” is one of the main questions of this era in history: “How much is enough?” Our inability to answer this question is harming the planet and causing many of the ills which plague modern society. So this question/idea is very much at play in modern medical thought.
Q: How easy or hard was it to create the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s vision for this piece?
A: Creating a meaningful work of art in a unique and distinctive style for a particular community is what I enjoy doing most. I want to create things that are original and interesting in a manner that relates to both the intellect and the emotions. I always begin my work by choosing materials which relate to the vision (such as archival imagery) and also to my personal aesthetic. I make a mock-up exploring materials which relate to my ideas on the topic and appeal to me on a sensory level. The materials give me ideas about how to proceed in the creation of the artwork.
Q: What appealed to you about having your artwork displayed in the Medical Center Library?
A: Having my work displayed in the Medical Center Library gives me the chance to dialogue (through the artwork) with future medical professionals and to ask them to consider not only the mechanistic aspects of healing, but also the rich spiritual and symbolic meanings of the body and of sickness and healing. Learning about these things will greatly enrich practitioners’ enjoyment of their professions.
Q: Where else can interested individuals find your art on campus or in Lexington?
A: On campus, I have a community-based chemo cap mural in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, several paintings decorating various places in UK Medical Center and an 80-foot mural exploring the history of the stock market just off the atrium in the Gatton College of Business and Economics.
In Fall/Winter 2023 I will have an exhibit entitled, “Matrons and Maidens” exploring TV Heroines of the 1970s at the Kentucky Clinic in the North Gallery on the third floor.
In Lexington I have at least 10 large-scale murals scattered throughout the city. Most were made through work with a particular community manifesting their vision.
One project I’m pretty excited about right now is my HorseMania horse, Platinum Pearlie, located on Midland Avenue. I also have a new interior mural in the Hand Therapy Department of Bluegrass Orthopedics.
Regionally, I have murals in Grayson and Danville, Ky., and in Hartford City, Ind.
Internationally, I made five murals in the Democratic Republic of Congo where I was one of only four American artists selected by the State Department to participate in the Creative Arts Mural Exchange Program. I also made one mural in Vietnam working with the Rock Paper Scissors nonprofit.
Q: You described your piece as being representative of “an exploration of the vast and checkered history of medicine.” Why did you feel it important to include some of the darker parts of medicine’s history in this piece?
A: We live in an era in which many new narratives are arising. We need to weave these emerging stories into a new understanding of what medicine is and what it can be. Recognizing the harm that medicine has the potential of causing and has caused to bodies considered “other” is a very important first step in healing the professional culture of the health care practitioners.
Q: What do you want people to take away from viewing your work? How do you want them to feel?
A: It is really not for the artist to decide how people should feel when viewing a work of art. It is all up to the viewer and will be dependent upon the viewer’s experiences of the world. However, if a work sparks curiosity or causes an individual to pause and take a closer look, then the work has been successful. Successful works of art jolt the viewer out of their own thoughts and back into the phenomenal world. Viewers are woken up by successful artworks.
Click here to learn more about 'Interconnectivity' and its exploration of the history of medicine.