SciArt Center of New York, NY (6 weeks)
An artist and a neurobiologist have something in common, they both love the tree-like cell in our brain. At The Bridge residency, facilitated by the SciArt Center of New York, I was paired with a scientist to develop a new body of work. This was the first time this residency took place so the results of an assigned collaboration were unclear. Director of SciArt Center of New York, Julia Buntaine, connected Danna Simmons and I for our first-ever virtual science-art residency. Danna is a neurobiologist researching autism in the brain. As a result, her research is deeply focused on activity within the cerebellum and the Perkinje cell.
For the duration of six weeks, Danna and I connected virtually twice a week to share our own talents and interests and devise a series of collaborations. We discovered that we shared overlapping interests as projects developed. Danna has an artistic eye for imaging neurons and likes to work with her hands and learn new skills. This was very beneficial for our collaboration because she shared an abundance of neural imagery that I used for source material. Additionally, I could give her virtual art lessons so she could translate neural imagery into artistic renderings. She made an edition of linocut and digital prints that were available for exhibition at conferences and art shows. I used my artistic abilities to visualize her research and create intricate drawings of the tree-like Perkinje cell.
“To neglect science in art making removes a crucial aspect of our common human experience, which is typically what art aims to unify and promote.”— Richelle Gribble, SciArt in America
The first few weeks of the collaboration were focused on skill-sharing and finding common interests and passions to pursue. Once we learned more about each other and our differing skillset, we decided to join forces to make an science-art book. This book would be titled The Trees Inside Our Brain, taking a close look at the ways our neurons alter behavior and processes in the body. The text portion asked posed questions about autisim, scientific research and equipment, neurons and the cerebellum. The illustrations playfully responded to the written portion, integrating Danna’s images of brain slices, neurons, and tools.
The project concluded with a series of neuron-inspired artworks and a science-art book. All works and projects created during the residency were exhibited at the School of Visual Art in New York, NY. Selected artists and scientists were invited to present projects alongside Susanne Anker, founder of the SVA Biolab and Chair of the BFA Fine Arts Department. Our entire collaboration is documented in our collaborative science-art blog. Special thank you to SciArt Center of New York for making this collaboration possible.