In my eyes, and I wager to many of yours, almost anything can be seen as linked to dermatology, by certainly not as many as six degrees of separation. I sometimes need to keep my dermatological thoughts to myself. Yesterday as I was using a glass to cut out biscuit dough for shortcake, I was thinking of punch biopsy technique, not strawberries. Last summer in Maine, I confess that the shape of a seal on a sun-bleached rock brought to mind scybylla-surely a sign that I needed a vacation.
This past weekend, an interview on "Bob Edwards' Weekend" on National Public Radio with Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., the curator of Northern Baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, of course immediately brought to mind the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA) and its journal (National Public Radio, 2010).
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Wheelock is an expert in 17th century Dutch and Flemish art and was discussing "Hendrick Avercamp, The Little Ice Age," an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC ((National Gallery of Art, 2010). The paintings depict in minute, as Bob Edwards put it, "Where's Waldo?" detail, activities on the frozen rivers and canals of Holland in the early 1600s. The frozen waterways served as social and cultural centers-and roads-during an unusually cold period that followed a warm spell in the Middle Ages.
The community depicted in Avercamp's paintings, the skaters on the ice and the others gazing out at them, encompassed play and work, carnival and industry. People skated, alone and in pairs and groups; horse-drawn sleighs pulled the fancier folk along the ice; vendors served food and drink from tents moved onto the ice. (To see the paintings, go to http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2010/avercamp/slideshow/index.shtm) Women are seen bending over in a group, washing clothes in holes in the ice (look near the left edge of "Winter Scene on the Canal"). Fishermen are seen off to the side, cutting holes in the ice (see left foreground of "Skaters and Tents Along the Ice"). Others stand quietly on the periphery, gazing on.
Wheelock posits that perhaps because of the artist being mute, and probably deaf, he took special interest in people standing at the outskirts of the action, in those looking on. I see the onlookers in the paintings as metaphors for newcomers to the DNA and the JDNA, for those who are members of the audience, not at the podium giving the talk and clicking through slides; for readers, not writers.
I do not want JDNA readers or DNA members to feel browbeaten into writing and active participation (as much as I might be tempted to do so). We need readers as well as writers; audience members-alert, attentive, and engaged-as well as speakers and panel members. We need people to vote for the officers of the DNA as well as people to run for office. However, the pulse of the JDNA and the DNA would soon become thready and lost entirely if the active players decided that their lives could not accommodate one more commitment and if committee chairs and conference organizers, writers working to revise manuscripts, JDNA reviewers, and editorial board members all cried out a resounding "Enough!" and bowed out. Fortunately, readers and writers, audience members, and laser-pointer-wielding speakers can shift roles, back and forth, during a day at the annual meeting, and during a lifetime.
I remember my first DNA meeting, looking on from the periphery of what I first perceived to be an exclusive inner circle. I watched, hearing and rehearing the same names being called out in greeting, old friends-all strangers to me-from past annual meetings mingling in different configurations. I remember that first year, Marianne Tawa (2009-2010 DNA president) welcoming me and introducing me to the community of dermatology nurse skaters on the ice.
DNA has programs at annual meetings to welcome first-time attendees, but the individual personal gestures of experienced members can be powerful in making newcomers to the DNA and the JDNA feel welcome, and willing to take the risk of one day presenting, writing, running for office-or working as an editor. This can take the form of individual members greeting newcomers at receptions, beckoning them to join the lively group on the ice (or dance floor), or Editorial Board Members and editor working with authors, inspired e-mails and calls flying. Thanks to editorial board member Angela Borger, the Journal has launched the Author Mentorship Program, in which authors are paired with an Editorial Board Member, with whom they work closely, getting a sort of pre-review as they ready their manuscripts for submission.
We can picture the skaters in Avercamp's winter scenes turning to some of the lookers-on, cajoling them to join the community of skaters, urging them on to take long strokes, skating for distance, as was the Dutch custom. I can picture the observers, many with skates already strapped on, taking at first tentative strokes, unsteady, before they too catch the rhythm, following the more seasoned skaters ahead of them. They gain speed and confidence, gradually becoming part of the scene, skating for distance, skating for the distance. [black small square]
Barbara B. Starr