Beyond Practice, Teaching, and Research: Pharmacy Faculty Spotlighted in the Arts

Written By: Malissa Carroll, Senior Web Content Specialist

Faculty at the School of Pharmacy have gained national and international recognition for their expertise in a number of professional areas that span the fields of pharmaceutical health services research, pharmacy practice and science, and pharmaceutical sciences. However, it might surprise you to learn that, in addition to being stellar clinicians, educators, and researchers, many faculty members boast talents in a variety of other subjects, including the arts.

1807: An Art and Literary Journal is an anthology curated, edited, and produced by members of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) community. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and West Baltimore community members are encouraged to submit their art – which can include drawings, paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry, writing, and more – for consideration to be published in the annual journal.

This year, two faculty members from the School of Pharmacy had their submissions selected for publication: Cynthia Boyle, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FASCP, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and Linda Wastila, BSPharm, MSPH, PhD, the Parke-Davis Chair in Geriatric Pharmacotherapy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) and director of research for the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging. Below, Drs. Boyle and Wastila discuss their artistic endeavors and thoughts on being spotlighted in the University’s pre-eminent art and literary journal.

Cynthia Boyle, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FASCP
Photography Submission: “Tranquil Beauty”

Creative arts have always been an important part of my life. I am a woodwind musician and pianist from way back. I support the arts as a patron and am an enthusiast for living history, such as Colonial Williamsburg, with a particular eye toward landscape design. Many of my textile creations have traveled as gifts, and my photographs adorn homes and offices. Overall, I see the creativity and appreciation of art of all kinds expressed abundantly by family members. The arts have taken root.

I have always admired the talented individuals at UMB and in our broader community. Notable among the 1807 artists is our very own UMB President Bruce Jarrell, MS, FACS; he may be the only surgeon-blacksmith among university presidents. He created a stunning window sculpture of the Davidge Elm tree for a large campus center window, which overlooks Camden Yards.

In November 2019, I saw the announcement requesting submissions to the journal. For the first time ever, I entered three photographs for consideration. I scanned through favorite photos from past vacations as well as some pictures from professional meeting destinations, and was immediately drawn to those with distinctive colors, composition, or lighting. In my submission to the journal for the photograph that was ultimately selected, I ran out of adjectives to describe the physical beauty and vastness of America’s 49th state. Experiencing Glacier Bay National Park from the water helped my photo truly capture the peaceful, tranquil scene in which the reflections of clouds and mountains in the water were punctuated by ice chunks from a nearby calving glacier. The ice even served as miniature islands for aquatic creatures seeking their next meal. The mountains also seem to form an arrow pointing toward the next discovery, the next destination. Breathe in the cool marine air and imagine the future.

My “Dear Artist” congratulatory announcement arrived March 4.

An art competition like the one supported by 1807 recognizes talent, but more than that, it affirms connections. The 2020 edition of 1807: An Art and Literary Journal is a gift to everyone.

Linda Wastila, BSPharm, MSPH, PhD
Poetry Submission: “Carving Grapefruit”

Over the years, I’ve worked in many mediums – clay, glass, and now metal (there’s something about working with fire that appeals to me) – but the medium that’s stuck is working with words. Fourteen years ago, I woke up one morning worried about a young man I’d never met, though I knew his name –Benjamin Michael – and knew he was in trouble. The “dream” compelled me to get up, write a quick paragraph about him, and slap my document in a folder called Benmich – a folder I forgot about until several months later, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I was cleaning my hard drive and found the folder. I opened the document, read the blurb, and the story unreeled in my head. I wrote my first novel in five months: a heady, weird experience in which words came unbidden, channeled through my hands, mere instruments to tell his story. This condition, I later discovered, has a name – hypergraphia – and is one that I (sadly) haven’t experienced since.

Benjamin Michael is a neuroscientist who is both brilliant and bipolar. I’ve written a quarter-million words about him, and while neither of his two novels have (yet) been published, he remains one of my dearest “friends.” Where did he come from? I don’t know any neuroscientists, though I do have bipolar friends. But, I think Benjamin originated from data analyses I was conducting at the time on psychiatric expenditures in a privately-insured population. I remember looking at a scatterplot of total expenditures and wondering who the extreme outliers represented. Maybe he was one of those outliers. It made me realize, for the first time, that data points represented individuals.

So why do I write? It depends. Sometimes it’s a compulsion – at least that’s how I started writing. But since that first intense experience, writing has remained a habit, one I exercise almost every day. When the pandemic hit, I found my mind paralyzed with anxiety and finding words seemed impossible. I had just finished an incredibly difficult year marked by immense stress-inducing changes, so COVID-19 was that proverbial straw as far as my writing was concerned. Then, something in me loosened. The numbness I’d carried for nearly two years melted. I felt. I joined a workshop facilitated by one of my writing mentors, and she worked us hard. We read. We wrote. We critiqued and discussed and now, I’m back in the writing saddle every day. A blessing. Because, through my writing, I’m able to exert a little control in this world in which I feel powerless. I control my setting, my characters, their troubles and celebrations. I control the sentences and words on the page. In doing so, I lose myself in stories that resonate with my own, yet are different, too.

My shorter works – my poems and short stories – are musings on my world, my family, my fears, and hopes for them. “Carving Grapefruit” is a poem I wrote in reflection over such worries. In writing my short pieces, I hope I am, in part, inoculating my fears, casting spells that will somehow anti-jinx them. In the case of this poem, my writing worked.

To view Drs. Boyle and Wastila’s submissions, download the Summer 2020 issue of 1807: An Art and Literary Journal here. The journal is currently accepting submissions for its next issue, which will be published in 2021. Submissions must be entered by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020, to be eligible for review and potential publication by the journal’s editorial team. Learn more about how to submit your art here.

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