Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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For Dear Life: Art, Medicine, and Disability
Acrylic painting showing image of a woman looking sideways wearing a bathing cap

On view at MCASD

September 19, 2024 to February 2, 2025

For Dear Life is the first historical survey of artistic responses to sickness, health, and medicine broadly. The show is informed in part by MCASD’s position in San Diego County, a hub for health science research as well as biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

In the past decade, the art world has witnessed an explosion of artistic activity surrounding issues of illness, disability, caregiving, and the vulnerability of the human body. Set in motion by the emergence of movements for disability justice, this activity accelerated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet since the 1960s, artists have negotiated and deflected the medical gaze, creating works that assert agency in the face of medicalizing labels and that highlight the role of care in producing new forms of community and healing. Increasingly, artists have come to locate illness and disability not in individual bodies, but as part of a web of interconnected societal, environmental, and historical conditions.


MCASD is among more than 60 exhibitions and programs presented as part of PST ART. Returning in September 2024 with its latest edition, PST ART: Art & Science Collide, this landmark regional event explores the intersections of art and science, both past and present. PST ART is presented by Getty. For more information about PST ART: Art & Science Collide, please visit


For Dear Life: Art, Medicine, and Disability is organized by Senior Curator Jill Dawsey, PhD, and Associate Curator Isabel Casso. This exhibition is organized as part of Pacific Standard Time, an initiative of the Getty Foundation.

Lead support and major funding for this exhibition and catalogue is provided by the Getty Foundation.

Top: X-Ray Woman in Bathing Cap, 1966