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While our doors are closed to visitors during the current health crisis, we at the Frost Art Museum FIU are committed to using technology to help foster connectedness and ensure that you can still experience the power of our work. Here you will find extra content and media about the exhibition Art and Empathy, featuring student testimonials, featured artworks from the exhibition, and a behind the scenes look at the exhibtion layout.

Banner image: Leandro Soto (Cuban, b. 1956), Esconder [detail]Ink and marker on paper, 2000, Collection of Liza and Dr. Arturo F. Mosquera, FIU 2002.009.002

Student Testimonials

The following FIU Honors College students enrolled in a course titled History of Medicine through the Arts taught by Dr. Amilcar Castellano-Sanchez. These students regularly visited the museum and engaged in curatorial practice.

Their exhibition on relationships between art and empathy are drawn from the museum's collection and was scheduled to open this summer. Here are some reflections from the students on the notion of empathy in the face of the current health crisis.

Image caption: Ruth Orkin, Israel (Young Israelis on Ben Yehuda St., Tel Aviv), 1951, Gelatin silver print, 13.5 x 10.625 inches, Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum Collection, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, Gift from the Collection of Charles S. and Elynne B. Zucker, FIU 2018.7.7

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  • Melissa Borrero

    "In difficult times we must show empathy towards those people who are struggling. Also, we need to understand the situation they are going through and show our support. This coronavirus crisis serves to move from an individual perspective to think in community and collectively. When we assume the responsibility to stay at home, it is nice because it represents not only self-care but also a collective sense of caring for others, whom we don't necessarily know. In the vast majority of occasions, having emotional support and empathy is of great value, mainly because it helps others not to feel alone when facing difficulties."

  • Sofia De Paz

    "When one speaks of empathy, I immediately think of the concept of genuine friendship, as having empathy signifies giving part of yourself to help lift your neighbor up. In light of coronavirus, empathy is being conscious of every, single person around you and taking wise decisions that will not endanger any person, especially those more susceptible to getting sick.

    In my future career as a medical professional, empathy is at the core of what a doctor should embody because of the constant conversations held with vulnerable patients."

  • Alejandra Nogueira

    "I think people right now need to be extremely empathetic because practicing social distancing for the health of others requires a great amount of understanding and sympathy. I think individuals right now need to think as a collective and about the health and well-being of their communities, not just their own. Social distancing, quarantining, and self-isolating all become much easier when you know you are doing it for those who are immunocompromised and elderly, or whoever else cannot handle such an illness. I also believe all healthcare professionals around the world would benefit from from people feeling their struggle and understanding that the best thing they can do is stay home as much as possible."

  • Dariana Sedeno

    Due to the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, empathy has taken on a new meaning for me. In the middle of this crisis, now more than ever, I feel empathetic. For the thousands of people in China, Italy, and Spain who have been affected severely by this disease. For the thousands of people around the globe that have lost their loved ones or have been isolated from them for countless weeks. For the health professionals in every country affected that have been working and fighting endlessly to save all of those infected. Lastly, for the elderly population that have a disadvantage in the midst of chaos and fear their lives end sooner than anticipated. It is important for all of us to remember that at times of desperation and fear, empathy is the only feeling that can bring the world together to fight against the unknown.

This short animation was created by our Lead Preparator, Kevin McGary. Before most exhibition installations, McGary develops an animated version of the layout, so the team can brainstorm and problem solve before the actual installation. In sharing this, we want to provide you behind the scenes access to our exhibition process.

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Luis Cruz Azaceta (American, born in Cuba, 1942), Gun Shots II , Monoprint on paper, 1989, Museum Purchase through a gift from Sam Oroshnik, FIU 92.10.6 

After the end of the Cuban Revolution, Luis Cruz Azaceta left his home in Cuba for the United Stated in 1960At age eighteen, Azaceta settled in New York where he finished his studies at the School of Visual Arts. Gun Shots II is one of many works by the artist dealing with issues of urban violence and psychological terror—both of which he witnessed firsthand as a youth in a country undergoing mass upheaval. The languid figure pictured at center has his face raised, facing upwards in apparent agony, mouth agape and eyes bloodshot. The letters G-U-N are superimposed in front of the figure, encasing him within the backdrop of large, bruise-like circles. As viewers, we are confronted with these three elements – the anguished man, the word “gun,” and the circular wounds. In this instance, Azaceta presents a lone moment of physical discomfort and a mental warfare that Azaceta often refers to as “psychological violence.”

 

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Reginald Marsh (American, born in France, 1898-1954), Bread Line-No One Has Starved, Etching and engraving, 1932, Gift of John and Ideal Gladstone Archival Collection, FIU 1998.018.030

Reginald Marsh spent much of his career in New York. He favored imagery of burlesque and vaudeville acts and Coney Island frivolity. This work differs from that subject matter as it portrays society at the height of the Great Depression (1929–1933). Public assistance and poverty were very common as individuals lacked many resources. The restriction and lack of food is portrayed by rendering a crowded line with individuals extremely close together hoping to reach the front of the line. The muted tones of gray emphasize the hardship that the country and its citizens were facing during the Great Depression. The subjects’ facial expressions show concern, tiredness, and ambiguity as dirt and trash cover the streets. Today, many individuals continue to experience this hardship due to food scarcity, which can result in nutritional diseases.

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Fredric Roberts (American, b. 1942), Woman in a Truck, Archival pigment print, 2003, Gift of Fredric Roberts, FIU 2019.6.36 

After ending a 30-year career in the finance industry, Frederic Roberts made photography his occupation. Starting in 2002, Roberts traversed the South Asian region to capture what he felt were authentic moments of humanity. This photograph is part of his first volume, titled Humanitas (2007). Like the title describes, Woman in a Truck presents an Indian woman captured within a vehicle. The horizontal wooden sheets make up most of the expanse of the image, with the browns of the wood grain, oxidized metal, and soft skin coming together to make a warm color palette. The woman’s gaze brings our eyes behind the wood, teasing at the space and world within the truck.  

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Leandro Soto (Cuban, b. 1956), Esconder, Ink and marker on paper, 2000, Collection of Liza and Dr. Arturo F. Mosquera, FIU 2002.009.002

This work on paper functions as a special glimpse of the performance piece Liborio Wants to Escape (2000-ongoing) created and performed by Leandro Soto. Coming from the same series as Soñar (also presented in this exhibition), Esconder offers another contemplation on overseas migration. As a Cuban artist familiar with themes of turbulent national identity and imperialism, Soto presents Liborio—a symbol of the universal Cuban citizen—at his most vulnerable, naked and submerged in water. Arms limp and body floating just below the water’s surface, Liborio appears lifeless. The severed head with the lone tear on the cheek cements the somber tone for the piece. Esconder (Spanish for “to hide”) is pointedly written on the top right corner of the work. It can serve as a possible jab at the water’s inability to appropriately hide the body that floats just beneath it.