Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic

artistic antidote for a pandemic


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:

CFAM Icons

At the end of 2020, we launched a collaboration between two CFAM initiatives: Artistic Antidote and Sharing Our Stories. Stories are one of the most powerful ways for us to connect, empathize, and to heal. Over the next few weeks, we're sharing stories submitted by our colleagues about how our lives and work as healthcare workers have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a story to share, or know someone else who does, please submit via this form. 

Black Swan by BTS Performed by MN Dance Company

Black Swan MN Dancers

April 16, 2021

We've gotten great feedback in the past when we've shared dance videos from our friends at the MN Dance Company, and we think you'll like this incredible performance to end your week on a high note. This video, which has over 40M views, is set to the song "Black Swan" by Korean pop band BTS (you may have heard of them- they're everywhere). The song is about one of the biggest fears that any person who lives for making art faces: losing the passion for creating. The intro card to the video is a quote by Martha Graham: "A dancer dies twice- once when they stop dancing, and this first death is more painful". 

Black Swan by BTS Performed by MN Dance Company


Rachel Swan

March 10, 2021

We at the Center for the Art of Medicine want to share a new initiative, built out of the Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic. Sensing an enhanced need for support and gratitude for our front-line healthcare workers, we've partnered with local artists who have created their own "Daily Pause" to share with all of you.

Many of us have been turning to the culinary arts to unwind and connect during the pandemic. We all remember the "banana bread" phase of quarantine. Well, for local "Pie Operating Officer" Rachel Swan, the pandemic has been a time for her to reconnect with what led her to open up Pie and Mighty in 2020: joy and love. Specifically the joy we get when we get to eat something that we love, which is what she shares with the world through her subscription pie service and storefront. Watch the video to find out more about the surprise gifts of pie- and if it makes you hungry, subscribe to their fun newsletter here (it's the only way to order pie!)



Seitu Jones

February 15, 2021

Seitu Jones is a multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer known for his large-scale public artworks and environmental design. Jones channels the spirit of radical social movements into experiences that foster critical conversations and nurture more just and vibrant communities from the soil up. He is recognized as a dynamic collaborator and a creative force for civic engagement. We couldn't wait to talk with him about what has been driving him creatively over the last few months. Let us know what you think!


Daily Pause with Seitu Jones

Special Daily Pause with Kate DiCamillo

joy of practice

December 31, 2020

As this milestone year comes to a close, we want to share a new initiative, built out of the Artistic Antidote for a Pandemic. Sensing an enhanced need for support and gratitude for our frontline healthcare workers, we've partnered with local artists to create unique "Daily Pause" offerings to share with all of you.  For our first piece, we offer up a unique pause from author Kate DiCamillo, who is one of six people to win two Newbery Medals for her novels The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. We are lucky to count her as a resident of our great state, and even luckier to have her share her words of support with us at this time when we could all use some uplifting and encouragement. 


Daily Pause with Kate DiCamillo


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.


flowery field paintingSomething 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?lady in rain painting

When 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. 

Whether 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.

cheerful flowers paintingArt 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.