This week for The Bridge, Richelle and I discussed creating a series of prints. These prints would each feature a short text about autism and/or neuroscience, and an image that would depict what the text explains. Richelle was inspired by the book The Where, the Why, and the How, which is a book that asks questions about the universe provides artistic illustrations. From this inspiration, she brought up the idea of doing neuroscience-based prints in this format in our biweekly meeting. I immediately thought this was a fabulous idea that would be really fun to explore and create.
For my half of this collaborative project, my role is to provide text about my research. This project advances my personal goal of bridging the ever-widening gap between science and the public, because it provides me with an opportunity to write about my research in a way that I hope people will find engaging and exciting. Bye, bye jargon. Hello, real world explanations.
In order to decide what to write about, I have been mentally combing through my graduate work in search of topics that lend themselves to nice imagery (besides the beautiful, tree-like Purkinje cells). I plan to ask a different question to direct the text for each print. I have been brainstorming what questions would be illustratable and interesting to read about. So far, here are some of the questions I would like to answer:
What is a neuron? / What is a Purkinje cell?
How do neurons communicate with each other?
What does the cerebellum do?
How do mice get autism?
How do mice show symptoms of autism?
Why do scientists often use mice to study diseases?
How do scientists study learning and memory in the brain?
Why is studying the cerebellum important for autism?
If there are other questions that you have, please post them in the comments section of this blog post, or tweet them @dhsimmons1. I’ll take a look and try to answer some of them with this project.
That’s all for now. Check back next Tuesday for more updates!
Another late night in the studio! I am still in the process of creating and merging various visual networks, including neuron imagery sent from Dana. I currently have five drawings in progress and two paintings that are underway. The studio is becoming more colorful, vibrant, and admittedly messy each day! As the artist-in-resident at ICBAA in Sausalito it has been enjoyable to have frequent visits from fellow artists, friends, and visitors.
Merging the neuron branches to people to imply our complex social connections.
I recently drew a social media map, clusters of people, pollen, and branches of a neuron linking the crowd. This process is very playful and experimental and I am not quite sure what the final results will be. It has been enjoyable to work with various materials on multiple projects simultaneously to get my ideas onto paper. The next challenge will be to gracefully merge these images to create smooth transitions between disparate subject matter to enhance my concept of interconnectivity.
Planet paintings in progress
Above are two paintings inspired by a conversation with a good friend/mentor and founder of the USC Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, Adlai Wertman. We were discussing my interest in networks of all kinds (social, technological, material, biological) and he made a comment on how my network obsession would eventually lead me to learn that it all connects into one thing, one form, one body. He was right! These paintings are planet-like forms tied together by the countless networks that intertwine all life on Earth.
While I work I am listening to various podcasts about climate change, space exploration, dwindling resources, scientific discoveries, and more. This is new to me because I usually work in silence or with music to enter my own world and flow state. However, these podcasts along with reading loads of articles and watching videos online are leading to new discoveries that I hope to emulate in the work I make.