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Art and Medicine: Through the Doctor's Lens

January 25, 2017

American photographer Aaron Siskind once said, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

For Dr. Eric Spier, marrying the arts of medicine and photography allow him to reveal a more complex and beautiful journey for some his of patients during their time at Craig Hospital.

“In photography and medicine both, it was a process to bearing witness to other people’s lives,” Spier says. “The art that I really gravitate to, the art I find meaningful is the art shaped by human experience.”

Spier, who studied photojournalism before going into medicine, provides a unique perspective as both a rehabilitation physician and observer. He photographs some of his patients throughout their rehabilitation at Craig, which can span months. He says many of his patients avoid photographs after injury because they aren’t sure they are ready to see themselves in the here and now.

“When you pull the tool out and start shooting it forces you into the present.”

For some patients at Craig Hospital, looking back at their rehabilitation journey through a timeline of photographs helps to tell a more complete story of reality, providing a closer look at the heartbreak and human perseverance of catastrophic injury.

“Of all the things an image captures, I think the most important thing to capture is emotion,” Spier says. “It creates an opportunity for mindfully acknowledging where you are in your life, no matter how painful it is.”

At the end of their time at Craig, Spier will sit down and share the photos with his patient to show how far they’ve come.

“In the end I can hopefully pull the photos out and say hey, this is where we were. You look at three months in two minutes, emotionally going through it when you were the one that lived it is powerful, liberating and exciting.”

Dr. Spier joined Craig Hospital’s medical staff in 2016. He came to Craig from Mentis El Paso where he served as the Medical Director. He is an avid photographer, cyclist and rock climber.

Dr. Eric Spier discusses marrying the arts of medicine and photography during patient rehabilitation at Craig Hospital.