University of Arizona

The Arts, Health and Wellness – Carissa DiCindio and Yuri Makino

Collaborators: Yumi Shirai and Christine Ryan Harland

Moderated by: Andy Belser*

DiCindio and Shirai talked about a semester-long collaboration between Art and Visual Culture Education students in ARE 425: Theory and Practice in Art Museum Education and artists at ArtWorks, an art studio and gallery for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). ArtWorks is housed in the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Arizona, Department of Family & Community Medicine

Over the course of the semester, students worked in small groups with artists to generate ideas for works of art that shared stories of grief. This project culminated in an exhibition of their art in the University of Arizona Museum of Art’s community gallery. As part of this collaboration, DiCindio and Shirai conducted a study to learn more about the impact and effectiveness in projects partnering university students and adults with IDD. DiCindio and Shirai spoke about the challenges and successes of designing this type of project and forming mutually beneficial partnerships.

The collaborators shared a video about the project: Crafting My Story segment on Arizona Illustrated:
Arizona Illustrated | October 20, 2019 | Season 2019 | Episode 607

Makino and Harland screened a segment from AMERICA’S HEALTH, their documentary work-in-progress in which Americans share their frustrations with our healthcare system and introduces a movement of disruptors who are creating models that provide more effective, affordable accessible healthcare and wellness.

The sequence they shared featured medical tourism which is a common practice in our region. Many Americans cross into Mexico to receive dental care and buy prescriptions because they are much more affordable across the border. They also included interviews with people receiving palliative cancer medical treatments in Nogales that are not approved in the US because of the astronomical cost of clinical trials for new treatments.  

Makino and Harland spoke about the process of documentary filmmaking, which is a journey. It is common that story is developed as you meet new participants and make discoveries along the way. Makino noted that documentary filmmaking requires an openness to new ideas and the ability to question the perspectives that you started with at the beginning of the project. She added that in filmmaking, you are often presenting the research of a specialist; the filmmaker isn’t the expert in the field, but has to understand the different perspectives on a topic to be able to synthesize them into a compelling narrative with a point of view.  

Both teams discussed the importance of collaboration. Makino and Harland discussed how they each bring different perspectives and skills which complement each other. Shirai and DiCindio shared how this project gave them opportunities to engage in innovative teaching strategies and new experiences with students and artists.

*In 2022 Andy Belser accepted a new position as Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine And Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Photo of

Carissa Maria DiCindio

School of Art
Associate Professor, Art
Assistant Professor, Applied Intercultural Arts Research - GIDP

Photo of

Yuri Makino

School of Theatre, Film & Television
Associate Professor, School of Theatre, Film and Television
Associate Director, School of Theatre, Film and Television