A window-filled corridor in the College of Medicine has become an art gallery. The first display was 10 works by nationally renowned Gadsden County artist Dean Mitchell. The exhibition, produced in partnership with the Gadsden Arts Center in Quincy, does much more than beautify a formerly blank wall. These are the faces of some of the medical students’ future patients.
Mitchell’s work is celebrated far beyond North Florida, of course. His paintings are included in the permanent collection of 13 art museums across the United States and the Library of Congress, and he is represented by six private art galleries spanning from California to Mississippi. He has more than 400 awards for his work, and his paintings of jazz musicians were turned into U.S. postal stamps.
But Gadsden County is where Mitchell grew up and where much of his art springs from. These 10 paintings had been part of his recent “Rich in Spirit” exhibition at the Gadsden Arts Center. That is where Janine Edwards, chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, saw them and was immediately inspired.
“The mission of the FSU College of Medicine focuses on serving the underserved populations of Florida, including rural, minority, elderly and poor people,” she wrote when she planned the College of Medicine exhibition. “Mitchell’s works illustrate the lives of these people and remind us of the compassion we need to cultivate toward all peoples. His art can raise our spirits as we work to teach and learn medicine.”
The College of Medicine has close ties to Gadsden County. It works with the county health department and school district to provide expanded services in student health centers at Shanks Middle School and Munroe Elementary School in Quincy. Also, it is part of a coalition behind the recently opened health and wellness center at Havana Middle School.
The art exhibition lasts until Jan. 13. But it appears that the relationship between Dean Mitchell and the College of Medicine is just beginning. Edwards said she hopes to bring him to campus to speak to the students about the people in his paintings.
Exhibition produced in partnership with the Gadsden Arts Center, Quincy, Florida. Many thanks to Executive Director Grace Maloy and Curator Angie Barry.