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Art & design department, Mayo practitioners to present ‘The Science of Empathy’

| Julie Poquette

UW-Eau Claire faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend a presentation titled “The Science of Empathy,” to be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Ho-Chunk Room (Room 320E) in Davies Center.

Featured speakers are health care practitioners at Mayo Clinic Health System and Jyl Kelley, professor of art & design, who will introduce a collaborative assignment. Mayo speakers are Dr. Todd Wright, an orthopedics physician; Wendy Sheasby, a licensed clinical social worker and licensed marriage and family therapist; and Dr. James Deming, a physician providing hospice and palliative care.

The speakers are among the Mayo Clinic Health System professionals collaborating with UW-Eau Claire students in this semester’s “Digital Photography” class taught by Kelley. The presentation is part of a class assignment, “Imaging Empathy: Photo Tableau,” in which students will explore the concept of empathy as it relates to the work of health care providers and create artworks inspired by what they learn from their Mayo Clinic Health System collaborators.

Kelley said the theme of empathy was introduced by Dr. Todd Wright and multiple UW-Eau Claire and Mayo staff, who met in early 2019 to brainstorm creative ways to include UW-Eau Claire students and Mayo Clinic Health System staff in exploring the topic.

“The department of art & design joins other humanities faculty on campus who also have created recent collaborative projects with Mayo Clinic Health System,”  Kelley said.

UW-Eau Claire administrators and faculty involved in the project include Kelley, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Patricia A. Kleine, art & design department chair Dr. Karen O'Day, and art & design professor Wanrudee Buranakorn.

“As an art instructor, I believe empathy is a very important theme for students to grasp, because empathizing gives us new perspectives that allow us to understand something bigger than ourselves,” Kelley said. “Having professionals from Mayo Clinic talk about the science of empathy is a gift to the students in my photography class as well as the entire university.” 

In addition to the Feb. 25 presentation, UW-Eau Claire photography students will meet with practitioners at Mayo Clinic Health System and listen to their stories about empathy drawn from their experiences working in the health care setting. Following those meetings, the students will create photographic projects inspired by the stories they heard. Students will create photos in a tableau style, in which the photographer stages an image by placing elements and arranging the photo composition rather than capturing an unscripted moment.

Top photo caption: Jyl Kelley, pictured here leading a photography class, and other art & design faculty have developed a collaboration with Mayo Clinic Health System practitioners as part of a class project exploring the concept of empathy.