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Artistic Antidote to COVID-19

Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic painting by donna bruni

Daily Pause

We are in unprecedented and chaotic times, facing personal and professional challenges many of us are still grappling to comprehend. We vacillate between disbelief, despair, and determination.
In this uncertain, disorienting time, the arts can serve as a compass. The arts help us find direction and remind us that there is still solid ground beneath our feet and a steady horizon ahead of us. And so, those of us at the newly-formed Center for the Art of Medicine at the University of Minnesota welcome you to join us for a daily Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic.

These daily doses of poetry, prose, music, and art can be integrated into our clinical and self-care practices. In doing so, we hope they will:

deepen empathy, engage curiosity, promote creative thinking, embody the joy of practice

Call for Submissions

Do you have an original piece of poetry, brief prose, music or visual art that could serve as an Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic?  We welcome submissions from anyone reading this blog. Please submit your piece to for consideration and be sure to include your full name, credentials, and current role.  

In addition to the daily Artistic Antidotes, we sometimes will feature longer reflections about people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an essay you would like to submit for consideration, please send it to Again, please include your name, credentials, and current role.

Our hope is to compile a portion of the poetry, prose, artwork, and essays selected as Artistic Antidotes into an anthology at some point in the future.

Jon Hallberg, MD- Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Maren Olson, MD, MPH- Pediatrics
Ben Trappey, MD- Internal Medicine- Pediatrics

Center for the Art of Medicine

Led by Drs. Jon Hallberg, Maren Olson, and Ben Trappey, the newly established Center for the Art of Medicine engages faculty, students, and the broader community in cultural activities that expand their perspectives on the connections between art and medicine.

Why Art? By Dean Jakub Tolar

Lady In Rain by Carol Lange PhDSomething about being in crisis and isolated from our normal routines triggers our brains to call up dark and dusty corners of our psyche we don’t usually see. In these corners live things like anxiety, gloom, and uneasiness.

Each of us has our own ways of dealing with these things and, for many of us, producing or experiencing art can provide the antidotes of pleasure, escape, and increased understanding.

For example, through the protagonist of Albert Camus’ The Plague, published in 1947, we experience many of the same issues facing us today. Is caring for a contagious population a moral duty? Or is it simple human decency? Do we shelter our loved ones when we put ourselves at risk or do they share the risk with us? How can we live our lives with a sense of normalcy, with a tender indifference to the virus?

flowery fieldWhen experiencing stress that begins to go beyond what words can express, we can find refuge in listening to opera. In the huge dramatic peaks and valleys of opera, emotions overflow in song and, for a moment, the burden of these emotions in our own lives are lifted away by the music and singers’ voices. 

Three people I know—Carol Lange, the late Julie Ross, and my younger daughter Johanna―have found expression and relief through painting. 

blue boquet with beesWhether an atmospheric, calming depiction of a rainy day (Carol), a delicate watercolor of a flowery field (Julie), or a punchy bouquet of cheerful flowers (Johanna), painting provides both release in the creation and pleasure from the viewing of the artwork.

Art offers us different ways to experience and view the world, and allows us to share the viewpoints and perspectives of its creators. 

Please consider contributing to Artistic Antidotes―an image of your art, a poem, a song, a book that speaks to you―the ways art impacts your life as we build a “library” of shared resources for exploration, experience, creativity, and respite.