Winter 2012


Yawner by Kaisu Koski

Yawner: Photograph, 20” x 30”


Five years ago a new program was introduced at the U of A’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Initiated by Verna Yiu, ’84 BMS, ’86 MD, and Pamela Brett-MacLean, the Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine (AHHM) program recognizes the many relationships that exist between the arts, humanities, social sciences and medicine, while also acknowledging that clinical practice is both an art and a science. In fact, as part of their Hippocratic oath, medical students pledge to remember that there is “an art to medicine as well as science.”

Jonathan White, a surgeon at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, says, “It’s hard to put your finger on what the art of medicine is, but you know it when you see it. The great mistake we make in medical school is to talk about “them” and “us”—patient and physician. The secret is there’s no them and us, there’s just us, and if you’ve forgotten that, you’ve forgotten the art of medicine.”

While the art of medicine may be hard to pin down, the art on this page (titled “Yawner”) was created by Kaisu Koski, a visiting post-doctoral fellow with the AHHM program from the University of Leiden—the oldest university in the Netherlands. “It is a self-portrait, and an image of an image,” she says. “I photographed my video image that was projected on a pile of medicine tablets.

“It is inspired by the yawner tradition, vivid in the Netherlands. The yawner is an ancient symbol of the pharmaceutical branch, stemming from an era when most people were illiterate. To me, the image also illustrates the fragmented body image that medicine and pharmaceutical sciences sometimes maintain.”