Background: Art can be a strong advocacy tool; it can be used to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and can change people’s perceptions of the world and others in it. In 2018, an art exhibit at Jefferson University included the cardboard signs of people who panhandle in Philadelphia as well as excerpts from in-depth interviews with those who panhandle to highlight their lived experiences. While the team published an article about this work, the purpose of this follow-up study is to explore the lasting impact of the exhibit experience on attendees’ perceptions of people who panhandle.
Methods: Fourteen attendees of the “Signs of Humanity” exhibit were interviewed 18 months later to explore their recollection of their visit and perceptions of the panhandling community. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematic codes were developed in two ways: a priori codes based on literature, and through line-by-line reading of transcripts.
Results: Directed content analysis showed three main areas in which the exhibit resonated with participants: emotional, behavioral, and educational resonance, in addition to a cross-cutting “sticky” theme, referring to the memorable long-term value of the exhibit.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that integrating art into the dissemination phase of research is effective in imbuing long-lasting emotional/behavioral responses in a way that is both accessible and provocative for the lay and scientific communities. This study adds to the body of evidence supporting the efficacy of art as an education tool and supports its use as a way to amplify the voices of marginalized communities.
Pepe, Vincent M.; Sowers, Allison; Pimentel, Michelle; Hoffman, Alexa; Doran, Cierrah; Guth, Amanda; Khan, Sameer; Baronet, Willie; and Frasso, Rosemary, "“I Can’t See How People Could Walk Through That Exhibit and Not Be Forever Changed”: A Qualitative Analysis Exploring the Use of Art in Research Dissemination" (2022). College of Population Health Faculty Papers. Paper 160.
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