Stitching together art and neuroscience


I’ve been embroidering and painting for over 30 years but only recently found my true passion in the exploration of the human brain. In 2014, I was invited to participate in a fiber art exhibition. Bored with florals and abstracts, I was searching for a new theme when my partner said,” Have you ever thought about doing a brain?” I started researching, reading and looking at brain imagery, and designed my first two neuro themed pieces “Neurofiberosis 1 & 2” . Instantly hooked, I’ve spent the last four years learning as much as I can about how our brains work and have completely focused my craft on stitching together art and neuroscience, exploring the fascinating realm of the human brain with fabric, thread and paint.
While neuroscientists are rapidly discovering how our brains work, much of it still remains a mystery. My goal is to use my art to inspire those who work in the field, taking their real information and imagery, and reimagining it in fantastic texture and color. I’ve explored whole brain imagery working through each of the cerebral brain lobes and their functions, sometimes incorporating fun facts. For instance, the hippocampus, largely responsible for long term memory formation, was named after the Greek word for seahorse because of its similar shape. I’ve also delved into microscopic imagery using mirrors and thread to illustrate how each neuron is unique and interconnected at the cellular level.
While I love learning about the science, I also seek to support and give inspiration to those who suffer from brain injury and illness, and their caregivers. It seems that almost every single person knows someone who is affected by some form of brain illness or injury. From Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain tumors, and mental illness to dementia, traumatic brain injury and a myriad of other issues, we are all touched in one way or another. My personal connection to Alzheimers led to my involvement with the Brain Project in Toronto, Canada in 2017, where I was one of 100 artists who designed a brain sculpture that was part of a citywide display. My piece entitled ‘Not Forgotten’ was inspired by my step-mother Elaine. The last time I saw her she didn’t recognize me. After asking for my name, she smiled and said : “Laura… that’s one of my favorite names.” I knew then that somewhere deep inside her she had not forgotten.
I’ve been honored to participate in the Society for Neuroscience’s “Art of Neuroscience” exhibits at their annual conventions in 2017 and 2018. Neuroscientists from literally every corner of the world participate in information sharing lectures, posters and networking, and it thrills me that many of them have taken my work home with them to nearly every corner of the world. As the field deepens in its knowledge, I hope to continue to provide a unique view of the inner workings of the human brain through my handstitched mixed media art pieces.
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