Wilma Bulkin Siegel, M.D. graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and received her medical degree in 1962 at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She has had a distinguished career as a prominent Oncologist in New York City. In her career she was a pioneer establishing one of the first Hospices in the state of New York and one of the first to accept AIDS patients. In the capacity of Medical Director of that Hospice she was asked to give her expertise on AIDS to the Presidential Commission in Washington. Following her retirement she combined medicine with her other childhood career target, painting. She has become an award-winning artist recognized nationally for her series of people living with AIDS. In April 2009 she was awarded the highest honor for her contribution to the field of arts in Healthcare “Janice Palmer Award of Society of Arts in Healthcare”.
"As a physician and an artist, I use my medical education and my art to find ways of healing people. It is my purpose in life to heal; in whatever way I can play a role, I wish to have people think about our place as individuals living amongst each other. Through my work as a doctor and a portrait artist I must address the “truth” of the individual. I observe and I listen to the person before me. As an artist, I choose to paint individuals who have something to say about pertinent social issues – a kind of social realism”.
Wilma Bulkin Siegel, M.D. is a pioneer in the integrations of Art in Medicine. During her professional life, first as a physician and later as an artist, Wilma always wanted to use art to enhance medical care. She educated herself by finding out what was being done in this field by others, developing her own ideas and implementing different projects. She has practiced “healing art” at three levels:
• Esthetically: through exhibits in gallery spaces or common areas in medical facilities, to uplift the spirits of both patients and staff.
• Clinically: by painting the portraits of patients as well as medical and administrative staff at healthcare institutions to help with stress relief.
• Academically: by teaching art to medical students to help them become better, more empathetic, professionals. And by conducting art workshops with
physicians to start or continue stimulating their right-brain function.
The human being is my inspiration. As I always do, I paint people because to me the human being is a wonder of nature and I love the human condition. What a marvel our body and mind and soul can produce in this world. First Life which is a true miracle and something to cherish and love and from that life we have produced our modern world of technology to be able to explore and communicate. With our marvelous brain and hand and heart, all of which makes us human, we can produce beauty in all the arts. We can also destroy and it seems we are forever in the battle of life and death. It is inevitable that all life will die and nature (whatever that is) is the controlling factor. It has been my choice to heal others in my profession as a physician and it seems that this choice of healing also is present in my art.
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