Local doctor continues to help healing through art

Henry Domke poses with some of his photography equipment in a field on his family's Prairie Garden Trust, near New Bloomfield. A former doctor in the Jefferson City area, Domke has retired to pursue his passion of art, snapping shots of nature to share in hospitals and treatment centers nationwide.

Henry Domke poses with some of his photography equipment in a field on his family's Prairie Garden Trust, near New Bloomfield. A former doctor in the Jefferson City area, Domke has retired to pursue his passion of art, snapping shots of nature to share in hospitals and treatment centers nationwide.

Henry Domke always wanted to be an artist, but when art school didn’t work out after high school, personal and religious convictions led him to pursue a medical practice. The New Bloomfield resident then spent 25 years as a doctor in Jefferson City, operating the popular Family Care Associates practice down the street from the state capital.

It was a career choice he enjoyed, but he said he felt something was missing.

“My definition of an artist is somebody who can’t say no (to art), and I wanted to get back (to art),” said Domke. “I decided to take it seriously.”

His yearning for art in his life lead him to private lessons , which in turn led to graduate courses in painting and eventually photography. His family land, New Bloomfield’s Prairie Garden Trust, served as his muse. Now retired from practice, Domke’s photographs — most of which were taken in Callaway County — are still at work in the medical field as popular fixtures in hospitals across the country.

The idea that art can have medical effects stems from a theory known as evidence-based art.

“The whole idea behind evidence-based art is that certain kinds of nature pictures can be calming,” said Domke. “Being calm may have some therapeutic benefits in a health care environment, because they are highly stressful, so if you can reduce that stress it’s a good thing.”

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