Polyxeni Potter discusses the art used on the covers of the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. Created: 4/4/2012 by National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID).
Date Released: 4/5/2012. Series Name: Emerging Infectious Diseases.
[Announcer] This program is presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
[Poly Potter] Hi. I am Poly Potter, Managing Editor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, here to chat briefly about cover art.
Emerging Infectious Diseases is a communication tool, not an archive of science. The journal aims to demystify public health data and reach out to a broad interdisciplinary audience. We use art to engage the general reader in disease prevention and control. Over the years, art has become part of the journal’s unique profile.
“How are images selected?” For artistic quality, audience appeal, and communication effectiveness. Drawn from all periods, prehistoric to contemporary, these images are intended to illustrate ideas, raise consciousness, reveal truth, stimulate the intellect, and fire the emotions. And while they attract readers, they also surprise, delight, inspire, and enlighten them.
“What do these images mean?” Readers wish to know the art and how it relates to them and what they do. The cover story offers some information about the artist and examines the artwork in the context of its time. In addition, the story connects the artwork with a current public health topic.
“How does that work?” Once you get to know the painting, the connection becomes clear. Disease is part of life and once you find the human element of a painting, the rest follows naturally. Public health can always be explained in human terms. Suffering is universal, and the purpose of scientific endeavor is to improve the quality of life for all people. That many of the featured artists died of infectious diseases makes the paintings all the more relevant.
Art humanizes science content and educates readers outside their areas of expertise about unnoticed connections. Art does this by infusing scientific findings with empathetic understanding?in a literal way, through faces and places, or completely in the abstract, through new ways of seeing. Beauty, color, emotion, style, and the eccentricity and vitality of artists’ lives and times, viewed against the formality of technical content, improve understanding through metaphorical interpretation.
After almost two decades, Emerging Infectious Diseases continues to track emerging public health threats; each theme, a new icon. The covers and stories also continue to evolve, thanks to the generosity of museums and artists, who provide high quality images; authors, who bring to our attention works of art from all over the world; and readers, who encourage us to bring them the arts with the science.
[Katie Cowart] You can see the entire collection of EID cover art online at www.cdc.gov/eid. If you’d like to comment on this podcast, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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