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Dr. Kathryn Ko -AMWA Artist in Residence Award

The Dr. Kathryn Ko AMWA-Artist in Residence Award was started in 2015 by Studio AMWA to promote women members in the arts. The role of the artist in residence is to create an artistic project that is pertinent to AMWA and women in medicine. This art will then be displayed (or performed) at the following year’s annual meeting.  The award is funded by a gift from Kathryn Ko, M.D., MFA,  “In Art We Trust”.

2021 – 2022 Artist in Residence:  Zainab Mabizari 

Dr. Zainab Mabizari is an internal medicine physician resident in the Social Medicine residency at Montefiore. She completed her medical education at Baylor College of Medicine and received a Masters in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. During her time in medical school, she participated in Gold Humanism society activities, co-founded the Houston branch of Performing Arts Mosaic, a non-profit promoting writing and performing in underrepresented communities, and published a policy brief to improve access to care through telemedicine. She is an acclaimed performance poet who uses her writing as a medium for immigrant and refugee narratives. Her work hasbeen published on KevinMD, Doximity, and Intima: Journal of Narrative Medicine. She has won numerous awards, including American Muslim Women Physicians Association Medical Merit Award in 2019 and Onetribemag’s “Woman to Watch” for Poetry in 2019. Dr. Mabizari states, “As a poet, my poetry oftentimes focuses on my intersectional identities — I am the child of North African immigrants, Muslim, a woman, and physician. I consider myself a storyteller, and the purpose of my work is to not only elevate my voice as a minority woman in medicine, but also to elevate the voices of those around me whose stories are oftentimes disregarded and silenced.” She plans on hosting narrative medicine workshops to empower women in medicine to create their own works of art this year.

2020 – 2021 Artist in Residence: Karen Poirier-Brode

Karen left the Canadian Prairies, for medical school at McGill University in Montreal. An OBGYN residency was followed by subspecialty fellowship in Psychosomatic OBGYN and Pediatric Adolescent OBGYN, at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA. She retired from her last position at Kaiser Permanente where she worked for 20 years as an OBGYN physician, and also as chair of the OBGYN Department at Dameron Hospital and Chief of Pharmacy and Therapeutics for Kaiser Permanente’s Central Valley. Since retirement Karen has pursued many interests including hosting A Creative Approach Podcast and attending art school at Los Rios Community College in Sacramento. Her art is featured at <>.

2019 – 2020 Artist in Residence: Somalee Banerjee

Somalee Bannerjee, MDAs the AMWA Artist in Residence, Dr. Somalee Banerjee is planning to explore a body of work that centers around the intersection of medicine, feminism and craft. The practice of craft –for example, knitting, sequinning, sewing –has been a traditionally feminine field that has not been accepted into mainstream art until most recently, when it has been more championed by male artists. As a hospitalist, her work will center around making mixed media paintings of organs using paint, sequin and thread to create altars to organs in various states of age and health as an pay homage to all her patients. The care that goes into these traditionally feminine crafts in a way mirrors the detail-oriented time and care that physicians provide. This body of work will showcase a rare voice in art: that of a of female physicians with her unique view of the art of medicine. In addition, she is working with colleagues in the arts education field to develop and implement a simply reproducible curriculum to implement medical education through workshops at art museums to strengthen observation and communication skills while providing the space to discuss difficult topics encountered by medical trainees.

(click for larger view)

Pancreas - Somalee Banerjee

2018 – 2019 Artist in Residence: Vidya Viswanathan

Vidya Viswanathan, AMWA’s 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence, is the founder and president of Doctors Who Create, an organization promoting creativity in medicine. She is also a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Social Studies and a citation in Mandarin Chinese from Harvard College. She writes about medical ethics, social change, innovation, and narrative medicine, and her work has been published in The Atlantic, The Establishment, and MedTech Boston. Check out the Doctors Who Create website ( and Twitter page (@doctorscreate) to learn more about her organization, and visit to read samples of her writing.

2017 – 2018 Artist in Residence: Hiba Ibad

I am a third-year medical student at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who is pursuing a career in orthopedic surgery. Since college, I have identified with ceramists, and today continue to use my artistic ability to help influence my community through charities, like the Empty Bowls event mentioned in my letter of intent. Over the course of my medical training, I have found that, like my identity in medicine, my artistry has changed. I would like to use the evidence of this transformative experience to encourage other women to allow medicine to mold them into pioneers.

My earlier works have traditionally feminine element to them; these pictures are of vessels that resemble the Turkish teacups, sometimes called “tulip teacups.”  The pictures are angled to emphasize the smoothness of the teacup rims, the soft golden hues of colors chosen, and the symmetry of each teacup. The tulip shape emphasizes their innate femininity.  These teacups are used to represent a preclinical students willingness to drink in the knowledge presented before them. On the inside of the teacups, the darker purples and red gives a physical form to the inner turmoil and smoldering nature of the earlier phase of transformation. These vessels were purposely made using basic pottery techniques and using a regular electric kiln.

This vase has a considerably rougher surface, almost resembling the scales of dragon. As I have mentioned, I have been experimenting with different firing techniques to harden pottery; this rough quality was accomplished by using a wood-fire kiln, where an actual wood fire is made and the ash created is what merges with the clay to make the scales. Instead of using an object of utility, like a teacup used to drink tea, I chose to create a decorative half-vase-half-bowl, which arguably has only one utility—to be decorative. My hope is to use this fact to address a common fear a lot of my peers have voiced: in the process of transformation, we become something in the middle, something with no real use outside of existing and not worth the sacrifices made.  And, while this fear may be a possibility, that so long as we continue to work and grow we will become what we wanted to be, which will be represented in the installments I work on this coming year.

2016 – 2017 Artist in Residence: Shilpa Darivemula

Shilpa 1

Shilpa Darivemula is both a scientist and an artist. A fascination for science and a love for conversation directed Shilpa towards medicine while her training in Kuchipudi and her exposure to various traditional dances drove her towards movement. Kuchipudi is one of seven classical dances from India, a form that requires exquisite footwork, hand gestures, and facial expressions to narrate stories of Hindu mythology.

Shilpa 2Shilpa began training in Kuchipudi at the age of 8 with Ms. Sasikala Penumarthy at the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance and performed her solo debut recital—her Rangapravesham—in 2011 with Ms. Anuradha Nehru and Mr. Kishore Mosalikanti at the Kalanidhi Dance school.

Captivated by the power of dance, Shilpa developed projects to use it as a tool for community development, spending her summers in college teaching dance to inner-city youth in Schenectady, interning in Dance Movement Therapy at Ellis Hospital, and teaching refugee women to share their traditional dances in a weekly women’s group at RISSE in Albany. In her senior year at Union College, she directed and choreographed Anamika, a mixed-media piece that combined ballet, praise dancing, and Kuchipudi, to serve as a call to action against the harms of human trafficking. She was the recipient of a 2013-2014 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the connection between traditional dance cultures of the world, their healing systems, and their current states of healthcare delivery. She has performed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (2014) and at the International Dance Festival in Fes, Morocco (2015).

Currently, she attends Albany Medical College as a second-year student and continues to merge medicine and dance by working with artists and administration on using arts to increase social and self-awareness in communities, both inside and outside the medical school.
Shilpa 3Inspired by the the traditional dances and stories of women facing illness and health, Shilpa started the Aseemkala Initiative. This initiative–which is Sanskrit for “arts beyond boundaries”–uses traditional dances to narrate stories of women in medicine from all cultures around the world. These are stories of physcians, healers, patients, and their families as told through the mudras and movements of Kuchipudi and Bharata Natyam and hopefully, in the future, more traditional dance forms. Click the button below to check out the Aseemkala Initiative for more information about the project and for information about the AMWA Artist-in-Residence dance piece.

The Aseemkala Initiative

Article published during AIR:
Art in Waiting Room Article

2015 – 2016 Artist in Residence: Kathryn Ko MD, MFA

A Mighty Woman with a Torch

A Mighty Woman with a Torch

Dr. Kathryn Ko is a Neurosurgeon in New York City and a multi media artist.

She is the co-producer of the YouTube Channel NeurosurgeryLeFreak exploring the intersection of art and medicine.
Find Dr. Ko’s art on Instagram @doc_ambidexter Dr. Ko is a self taught ambidexter. To read about this process check this link.

The Years of Living Ambidextrously | AANS Neurosurgeon