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Making Sense

Beauty, Creativity, and Healing

Edited By Bandy Lee, Nancy Olson and Thomas Duffy

Regardless of field, from the art world to healthcare delivery, there is a growing need for practically useful theory and theoretically informed practice. The time is ripe for a collaborative, creative conversation among thinkers and doers who are concerned about the larger world and our role in it. Making Sense: Beauty, Creativity, and Healing is a collection of essays and creative expressions written and produced in relation to a colloquium that tried to address these matters at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. Beginning with a powerful essay on the individually and globally therapeutic qualities of art and beauty by Elaine Scarry of Harvard University, this volume brings together a diversity of theoretically minded scholars, scientists, artists, and healers. In the form of critical and reflective essays, alongside images, poetry, and fiction, this book allows the reader to experience the bursts of ideas and sensory triggers that respond to and extend the artistic installations and performances of the colloquium – and welcomes the reader into the conversation.
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Art and Beauty


by Rosalyn Cama

Works of art, their beauty often sought for inspiration, have become an integral part of an evidence-based design vocabulary due to advancements in design research that link design features with improved health outcomes. Driven by the need to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, design research has explored the correlation between design of the built environment and health, organizational and economic outcomes. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has expanded the conversation to further understand health and wellness and more definitively improve patient experiences so that care environments are understood to be places of wellbeing where mind, body and spirit are more wholly engaged in clinical settings. This chapter addresses this relationship between design and health outcomes by exploring the role art plays in healing and the balance it strikes for patients and their families. This balance is defined as a “state of beauty”.

A philosophical discussion about beauty, creativity and healing for the design of the built environment becomes productive when an external driver forces the conversation between a multi-disciplinary set of participants. Such was the case at the 2011 Making Sense Colloquium on Beauty, Creativity, and Healing, held at Yale University. The conversations opened with insights from Elaine Scarry, Professor of Aesthetics at Harvard University, suggesting the participants consider the opposite of beauty to be “injury”—not “ugliness”—hence dismissing the last century’s fascination with the perfection of goods/people in the emerging field of merchandising and advertising. Referencing...

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