Biomedical Research and Visual Art

Cerebellar Purkinge Cell Vessel I. Spalted maple, ebony, and copper, 2014

Cerebellar Purkinge Cell Vessel I. Spalted maple, ebony, and copper, 2014

Dr. Peter Snyder is a Professor of Neurology at Brown University. His presentation Woodturning My Way through Brain Research presented by Brown’s Creative Medicine Lecture Series, was about the intersection of biomedical research and his visual art, woodturning. This was an unusual talk from the vantage point of one who is both a scientist as well as an artist. Rarely is the topic of the junction of art and science discussed much less from the viewpoint of an individual who straddles both realms. It began by setting the stage with a short history of visual art in neuroscience. He then went on to present some examples of how it applies to daily life, such as watching TV and completing arithmetic problems and how they activate similar regions of the brain. Finally he showed how neuronal images and his research into early retinal identification of Altzheimer’s are illustrated in his beautifully turned woodworks.

Retinal Vasculature on Spalted Box Elder Platter. Photomontage with woodturning and OCT scan of retina, 2015

Retinal Vasculature on Spalted Box Elder Platter. Photomontage with woodturning and OCT scan of retina, 2015

One of the valuable takeaways was his breakout of artistic approaches for conveying complex scientific information. He outlined them as: realistic depictions, faithful to original source data and artistic representations to create useful heuristics or to simplify a message. This is one very useful breakdown that asses how scientific information and art creation intersect.

Dr. Snyder is excited by the constant unfolding of new ideas in his research and new approaches to his artistic creation. Yet, he is also challenged by the balance of working as a Professor and Research Officer in neurology and as a woodturner. But that does not seem to stop him from pursuing these multiple engagements and surprisingly suggests that it might stimulate them.

Pyramidal cell axons. Thin turned maple with pyrography on both sides & candle lit, 2014

Pyramidal cell axons. Thin turned maple with pyrography on both sides & candle lit, 2014

 

Dr. Peter Snyder is the Chief Research Officer of the Lifespan Health System and Professor of Neurology at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

Brown’s Creative Medicine Lecture Series is presented by the Department of Emergency Medicine the Creative Arts Council and the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University.

 

China Blue
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China Blue

China Blue is an internationally exhibiting artist and the Founding Director of The Engine Institute. She is the recipient of a 2012 RISCA Fellowship in New Genres and her exhibition "Firefly Trees" was nominated for 2012 Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally by the International Association of Art Critics.Her in depth worked in sound was what drove her to be the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and through a NASA/Rhode Island Space Grant she was invited to do a pilot studyto record nature in an innovative way.She has shown her works in museums, galleries and non-profit institutions for over 20 years.Her work has been widely covered in web, television and print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
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About China Blue

China Blue is an internationally exhibiting artist and the Founding Director of The Engine Institute. She is the recipient of a 2012 RISCA Fellowship in New Genres and her exhibition "Firefly Trees" was nominated for 2012 Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally by the International Association of Art Critics. Her in depth worked in sound was what drove her to be the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and through a NASA/Rhode Island Space Grant she was invited to do a pilot study to record nature in an innovative way. She has shown her works in museums, galleries and non-profit institutions for over 20 years. Her work has been widely covered in web, television and print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
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