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Visual Art at IMU: The Power of Listening and Thinking in a Unique Way

05 Nov 2021

My initial response to the Thinking through Art Workshop was fascination and curiosity. I had huge expectations before the first session, hoping that I could develop a new interest and passion towards appreciating art, and true enough, I was not disappointed.

The concept behind the workshop really intrigued me as the way Dr Sheba D Mani, the facilitator conducted it was nothing that I have experienced before. The general rules adopted ensured that every single participant had the opportunity to speak up, despite our inhibitions.

Dr Sheba, who is trained in Visual Thinking Strategies explains, “The workshop allows participants, even those who may have never stopped to look at art, to start connecting visually.”

“It teaches participants to observe, think about what they see, and probe for meaning in images that are unfamiliar. By doing so, it helps in articulating ideas, while learning to appreciate perspectives and revisiting or reconsidering ideas.”

To ensure that the learning experience is optimised, each group had a small number of participants from various programmes. Dr Sheba selected thought provoking art pieces that were familiar yet puzzling to interpret.

She adds, “Art deals with the full range of human existence, and the selected pieces evoke difficult subjects and emotions. While participants are likely to think that they are discussing the pictures, they are often making connections with their experiences and revealing what intrigues them.”

With that, we were able to appreciate the utmost distinct and individualised perception of each participant. I have to say that this was an amazing experience as each authentic expression really gave me a good glimpse into the mind-blowing postulations that my peers could come up with in such a short amount of time.

I can confidently say that I have relatively improved in many aspects, with the most prominent one being the ability to dissect and evaluate even the most minute detail in an art piece. In addition, I was also able to fine tune my creativity, communication skills and spontaneity.

Our Comments about the Workshop
Similar to me, the other participants commented that a workshop like this benefits healthcare students as it pushes them to think out of the box. They appreciated how one picture had so many meaningful interpretations and allowed for probing various perspectives. It changed them to be more aware of their thought processes, looking for evidence to justify ideas, and thus make the concepts clearer. Participants felt that the imagination needs to be cultivated as it stimulates critical thinking. The workshop was also a refreshing break from rote learning that is done every other day.

Another participant valued the workshop as it requires active listening skill, focusing and understanding which are important when dealing with patients or clients. It also helped them to be supportive of one another even when the points of view vary since working in a team is inevitable in all fields.

Dr Sheba concludes that the experience of making sense of art honours the multiple layers of meaning. The facilitated activity provided a fantastic opportunity that connected the participants at all levels and had a positive holistic impact.

Look out for the next registration to this one-of-a-kind workshop offered by the Centre for Bioethics and Humanities!

By Shivadeva Selvamani (ME219) and Dr Sheba D Mani, Director, Centre for Bioethics and Humanities, IMU

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