The Kennedy Center

Justus Harris


Justus Harris is a patient, artist, and educator based in Chicago. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and depression as a teenager, he has since combined his artistic training and patient experiences to found MedSculp which designs art-based, 3D visual educational tools for people with diabetes and chronic conditions. MedSculp translates personal medical data and concepts from charts and graphs into 3D-printed objects and 2D designs that can be intuitively understood by and effectively used by people of all ages and abilities. Harris’s work embodies the Maker and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education principals with the experience of living with chronic illness. He was the first Maker-in-Residence at the Chicago Public Library Maker Lab and has exhibited his work at institutions including the Stanford School of Medicine, the European Commission, and the American Diabetes Association.

He is a member of the LGBQT community in Chicago where he is a committee member for the Queer, ILL + OKAY performance series which produces art by and for people with chronic illness. He is a mentor to younger artists as portfolio reviewer for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and assists the Kennedy Center to select and speak with their Emerging Young Artists with disabilities scholars. As a winner of SAIC’s Make/Work Creative Venture Challenge he now advises the counsel on the intersection of disability and entrepreneurship. He is focused on working hand-in-hand with doctors, educators, and medical institutions to create systematic utilization of art and artists in healthcare systems. Harris is a passionate advocate of the necessity of art to bridge the health education gap by providing a simple, personal, and inspiring language to understand chronic illness.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/26/2018: The Beat That Binds Us: A multi-genre performative and visual piece curated by the 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows

By combining elements of spoken word verse, hip hop, dance, visual art & instrumentation, The Beat That Binds Us explores the connectivity of Americans by using the body as a metaphor, with emphasis on its health and vitality dependent on the syncopated rhythm of its heartbeat. Through creating content that explores social norms and behaviors, this performance will investigate the barriers that create disease or disharmony in an increasingly divisive nation, and will unpack what we can do to move forward together as a functioning, beating heart.

About the Performers: The Kennedy Center, a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, honors our 35th President everyday by uplifting ideals from his legacy (service, justice, freedom, courage, and gratitude) that live through the arts. As part of this celebration of legacy, the Kennedy Center launched the "Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition" in 2016, which celebrates emerging artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities. Through a year-long engagement with the Kennedy Center, Citizen Artist Fellows develop and strengthen connections in their fields, receive opportunities for artistic collaboration and presentation, and gain access to Kennedy Center Staff and Artistic Partners for individual professional development.

Justus Harris