School of Medicine Art Display Focuses on Power of Healing Hands

July 05, 2013

In the medical field, hands are a powerful tool.

They delicately massage a human heart during surgery; they carefully handle stem cell cultures in the research lab; and they grasp a lonely patient’s shoulder during recovery.

A recently installed art display outside the School of Medicine dean’s offices highlights the power of hands in this healing profession. The glossy photo installation on the second floor of the Medical Sciences building on the Parnassus campus was spearheaded by Sarah Paris, the school’s director of communications.

“We knew we wanted to work around a theme that would resonate with all our missions,” she said. During a brainstorming session with photographer Elisabeth Fall, the idea of “hands” ignited the proverbial flash.

“Hands are central in medicine,” Paris said. “I realized that close-up images of hands engaged in care and education, in research and service, would convey the diversity and the humanity of our work, and still leave room for imagination.”

The photo installation is located outside the dean's office on the second floor of the

Medical Sciences building at Parnassus.

The 22 images selected for the display were captured in photo shoots across campus, including the Student Homeless Clinic, the Kanbar Center and the new Anatomy Learning Center. Students, staff, faculty and patients volunteered to have their hands photographed.

“When Sarah and I started the project, I was concerned that just focusing on hands would be too abstract in expressing what we were trying to convey,” Fall said. “What I found was that hands can express a great deal of intimacy. Whether it is in a lab or a clinic setting, the power of hands in healing and discovery is such a vital link.”

Mijiza Sanchez, director of the UCSF Multicultural Resource Center and a photographer herself, served as one of the hand models. “I have always been fascinated and enthralled by the human hand. There is amazing power and delicate beauty in hands; they infinitely hold so much."