Last fall I made a little purple neuron which caught the eye of Jennifer Wells (aka Jenthulu) on Twitter. After SfN14, she asked me if I would make her a new one as well as another one like Dancing, but in different colors.
Even though the request had been for a purple neuron, I got distracted and made a grey neuron highlighted with green flashes. For me, it is reminiscent of the micrographs with GFP (green flourescent protein). Then I went and made the purple one, using different fabrics on the back as I had done before. I wanted it to feel fresh and as I said on Twitter last week, I’m not interested in reproducibility of results. I am constantly tweaking.
Grey neuron quilt about 6X9 inches with metallic green flashes
Purple neuron, dancing on a black background
“Electricity” A green and pink neuron interact on a field of blue. Size is approximately 20in wide by 18in tall.
Then I set to work on the pair of interacting neurons. I wanted to try something different, so I used foil for the flashing synapses instead of angelina and where the connection was farthest, I added beads in the hopes of conveying the idea of little bits of information crossing (this is more along the lines of artificial intelligence, really, but I’m a fan of scifi too).
Initially I wasn’t sure how the different colors would play out. I thought the red-pink background I’d made before with black neurons would be the only way to showcase them properly, but with a little time, I was able to figure out another solution. It was good to stretch outside my preconceived notions!
Now that my two shows of the season are over, your opportunity to acquire one of my pieces in person is gone, but thanks to the internet, you can still get one or more through the magic of electrons.
I’m going to list all the available pieces here, under a cut. At the moment, I do not have an online store setup, but I can easily email an invoice.
I have edited the post to include dimensions and prices. If you click on a small picture, it will take you to a bigger one.
I am having an amazing time at the Annual Society for Neuroscience Convention. As one of six artists exhibiting this year, I feel enormously privileged and I’m thoroughly enjoying chatting with everyone there about brains and beauty.
I am trying take some notes about things that have particularly captivated me. Here is what I’ve collected so far:
Someone suggested making a series of quilts that changed as you went into a house/building with the theme of evolution. I thought that doing a series from the microscopic to the astronomic would be pretty exciting. Oooh, in that case, the size of the quilt could even change. Anyone want to commission me to do that? 😀
Had an interesting chat with Fiadhiglas from twitter about her flavor of synasthesia. She was telling me how different colors evoke different emotions for her (if I understand correctly). It got me thinking about the effect colors have on moods. Still thinking about it.
Talked to the nogginnw.org people about neuroscience outreach. They do enrichment classes for at-risk youth and incorporate art into the curriculum. Nothing short of brilliant.
arco_iris56 stopped by my booth today and later tweeted this incredible brain print picture that made me think of thumbprints and now my brain is all happy and fizzy.
Met a man with a tattoo of a neuron he’d imaged on his forearm (incredibly gorgeous tattoo) and also has purkinjee neurons on the back of his neck (see this tweet).
Finally, two of the official bloggers are interviewing the artists and here are there interviews with me.
Katiesci’s (from twitter) writeup is here. Shelly Fan, also from Twitter, posted my interview here.
And now I’m falling asleep. Until tomorrow!
I have neglected to announce here that I will be in the Art of Neuroscience Exhibit at the annual Neuroscience Convention in Washington, DC from Nov 15-19. Greg Dunn, Lia Cook, Megan McGlynn, Michele Banks, and Kathleen Childress will also be there. There are two sessions open to the public, the first is on Saturday, the 15th, from 11 am to 1 pm and the second is Tues, Nov 18 from 3-5pm (I believe).
One of the things I love about creating art in the neuroscience field is how wide open it is. I can choose any number of things to focus on, from experimental subjects (like jellyfish and octopuses) to data (as in the action potential graph I did) down to the matter on a microscopic level. These two quilts were inspired by images that were taken under a microscope. If the green one looks familiar, it should. It was inspired by the same image that I used for the black and white synapses. The second picture is my rendition of a blood brain barrier inspired by this image by Ben Brahim Mohammed.
If you are looking for more pictures, I have posted a bunch on Twitter. (note that not quite all the pictures/videos here are my quilts, but most of them are.) Please feel free to ask me questions!
One of the goals I have with my art quilts is to try to convey a sense of story. With that in mind, I want to show you the path my mind took to get to this quilt.
One of the images I came across when looking at pictures of neurons was a picture comparing galaxies to neurons. I am pretty sure I saw that after I saw a picture of city lights compared to neurons. I thought, wow, that is awesome and tucked the thoughts and images away.
A few months later, I was at the Hayden Planetarium listening to the dulcet tones of Neil deGrasse Tyson croon about the universe. Relaxed, I let his words wash over and through me as I watched pictures of stars, galaxies, and planets move overhead. And then I thought “what if the universe were a brain? and what if galaxies were neurons?” And, “what if the ocean was a brain? and jellyfish were neurons?” I almost leapt out of my seat, ready to go play, but stayed tethered to watch the rest of the show.
Life got hold of me. It took me away from the sewing machine for a bit. But still I noodled with this idea of stars and galaxies being neurons. Then I saw a picture of neurons that seemed like they could be shooting stars and I knew I had to make shooting neuron stars, but how? One day, I walked into a sewing store and there before my eyes was this iron-on thread. I had found it! I knew how I was going to make my shooting neuron stars.
I have been working on some neuroscience themed quilts and thought I’d post them all here, rather than making a separate post for each one.
This one was inspired by this image of Josephson Junctions neurons. I used angelina fibers for the fuzzy parts of the neurons as well as the blue sparkly background and then I stitched over the neurons with a shiny non-metallic green thread to give them form.
This wild woman was inspired by work on facial recognition. I can’t wait to play with more “faces”! She has a novelty yarn for hair that is just stitched in a few places so it hangs freely.
The next two were attempts at visual metaphor. I’ll put them behind a cut.