Dr. Kolker, The Physician as Artist, The Artist as Physician


In this video, Paul Kolker, M.D., J.D., an accomplished cardiovascular surgeon, attorney, and noted visual artist, shares a wide array of experiences that spotlight the impact the arts have had on his medical training and career, his interactions with his cardiac patients, and his own healing journey as a patient.

He notes that even early on, he found interpreting the artwork exhibited in the halls of medical school required the same empirical and intuitive skill sets used by doctors in examining and diagnosing their patients.  Now he asks, why not immerse medical students in an ocean of the arts, in addition to the sciences, to hone their skills?

Dr. Kolker also describes how artistic expression is intrinsically a process of sharing emotions, and this same process helped him relate more empathetically with his patients. He summoned the artist in him to become a more caring surgeon.

As for the healing process, Dr. Kolker relates, from personal experience and through observing patients, how introducing any form of creative expression—visual arts, music, literature—enhances convalescence.  Simply put, patients feel better faster.

Sample Gallery of Paul Kolker’s Works

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

Paul Kolker (b. 1935) is a New York-based artist with doctorate degrees in medicine and law. He began his career of painting and sculpture in the 1960s, illustrating his peer review medical journal articles and life-casting anatomical models. In the 1970s he treated his art production as a post-minimalist experiment questioning experience and using the viewer as the measuring instrument as well as the interpreter of the experiment’s results.

His works are observational experiments which cry out to us, “Because of biases of color, shapes, parallax and perspective relative to where we stand as the observer, a dot may be a universe; and a universe may be a dot.”  ——Visit PaulKolker.com for more information and to see his works and exhibits.

The Foundation for Art & Healing