Resilience Empowerment Art Project (REAP)

My colleagues and I explore the relationship of art to empowering resilience throughout the life cycle. Resilience is vital, be it resilience from the unexpected as in massive psychic trauma or resilience from the expected traumas of entropy and loss that mark the life cycle’s vicissitudes. History has had its share of massive psychic trauma as illustrated in such masterpieces as J.M.W. Turner’s Slave Ship and Hyman Bloom’s post-Shoah homage Seascape III.

When communities are subject to catastrophes ranging from slavery to genocide, the effects of demoralization are transgenerational.  Such traumatic effects are compounded when the perpetrators continue even today to actively deny agency as in the genocide of the Armenian population in Turkey.

Aesthetics fuels morale which allows us to make and persevere in our moral judgments against all odds. In ethical healthcare, tragic choices are inevitable and can lead to moral fatigue. When faced with demoralization, resilient art such as Bloom’s Rabbi paintings can empower us to draw strength from our shared history to make wise and humane choices. This was the focus of Dr. Harold Bursztajn’s Vanderbilt Medical School Flexner Deans Lecture “From Hell to Here: Moral Courage and Vulnerability from the Shoah (1939-1945) to Today” where a Bloom Rabbi painting is used to illustrate the discussion at 11:15 in the video.

See also a conversation between ABCI directors Harold Bursztajn and Andre Churchwell at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Spiritual and Religious Life on Black and Jewish Allyship.


REAP also sponsors the Boston Area ISPS-US study group meetings on Sundays 10:30-noon in Cambridge, MA. Events have included:

  • June 23, 2019: Stanley Sagov, MD – Therapy and All that Jazz: the art of improvisation


    This session of the Boston Area Study Group of the ISPS-US is dedicated to the memory of a founding member, K. Lowenthal.
    • September 15, 2019: Terry Bard PhD  The Art of Resilience
    • November 17, 2019: Arthur Kleinman, MD – Author of “The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and Doctor”

    For more information please contact Harold Bursztajn, MD.

    Tax deductible donations to the REAP Project can be made by check payable to “American Unit of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics” and REAP written in the Memo and mailed to:

    Harold Bursztajn, MD, President
    American Unit of the International Chair in Bioethics
    96 Larchwood Drive
    Cambridge, MA 02138

    or through Paypal (please type REAP in the special instructions to the seller):

    You will receive a receipt for your tax deductible donation to our 501(c).