Monday, November 16, 2015

New studies of Santiago Ramón y Cajal's work

There is a new batch of drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal on display at the John Porter Neuroscience Researcher Center of the NIH.  Just like with the previous set, I am spending time drawing and studying his work.  Much insight is to be gained about his creative process from this type of endeavor.  Below are the drawings I made last week:


Dawn Hunter's study of Cajal's Insect Visual System scientific drawing, marker and pen on paper, 11" x 14"

Dawn Hunter's study of Cajal's Olfactory System scientific drawing, marker and pen on paper, 11" x 14"

Dawn Hunter's study of Cajal's Calyx of Held scientific drawing, marker and pen on paper, 11" x 14"


“Our novice runs the risk of failure without additional traits: a strong inclination toward originality, a taste for research, and a desire to experience the incomparable gratification associated with the act of discovery itself.” 

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Handmade Sketchbook work about Santiago Ramón y Cajal Continues


I am continuing my sketchbook project about Santiago Ramón y Cajal.  I have expanded the project to include a container for the sketchbook.  A wooden box with a "fake" or "stunt" histologist slide for the title cover.  I have lined the box with gold, silver, cooper and other iridescent papers and have translated content from the sketchbook into narrative silhouettes of neurons, birds, and other woven threads - literal and metaphorical.

Here are a couple of links to previous posts that feature other pages from the sketchbook and the sketchbook at earlier states:





The interior of the lid is an in progress image.  When completed it will be pyramidal cells/pyramidal neurons surrounded by bird silhouettes. 


Hinged with meaning:  all of the clasps on the book represent an aspect of Cajal's life or research metaphorically.  The cross is a symbol for the room he was born in, the butterfly is a metaphor of his research (i.e. Butterflies of the Soul) and the arrow in tandem with the sun is metaphor of his research, too.  He inferred by drawing arrows on his work, the pathways of neural transmission.  The rose represents Romanticism and its influence on his work and world view.














Santiago Ramón y Cajal: A symposium honoring the father of modern neuroscience

It was a great privilege to be invited to participate as a speaker at the first collaborative symposium between the NIH and the Instituto Cajal celebrating the father of modern neuroscience Santiago Ramón y Cajal. So much gratitude to Dr. Jeffery Diamond for organizing the speakers and inviting me to present. What a privilege to meet so many great scientists. I am truly honored and my artistic practice enriched.  



For my presentation, Bequeathed Aesthetics: the origins of Santiago Ramón y Cajal's artistic perceptions,  I traced the aesthetic origins of Cajal's scientific drawings.  I examined his childhood experiences and his deep connection as a youth to the novel Don Quixote, and how that novel was seminal in its imagery, romanticism, individuality and philosophy to Cajal's discovery and perception of the neuron as an individual unit.  Through a comparison of Cajal's early landscape drawings to the work of Goya's sensibility, I then further connected Cajal's artistic and specific perceptual influence to the great master - an artist who was from the same region of Spain as Cajal.

Below, title page from my presentation, featuring an image I designed contextualizing Cajal and his neurons in a surreal narrative with Don Quixote de la Mancha, Goya and Picasso:  



It was also an honor to have my artwork selected for the poster publicizing the event and to have my artwork displayed in the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center next to the scientific drawings created by Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Pinch me, I may not be awake!




All of the presenters were honored with an invitation to a special reception celebrating the event at the Spanish Ambassador's, Ramón Gil-Casares, home.  It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful week.
Front row left to right:
Ana Elorza Moreno, Dr. Teresa Nieves Chinchilla, Dr. Rafael Yuste, Dr. Story Landis, Spanish Spanish Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares, Dr. Laura Lopez-Mascaraque, Rebecca Kamen, Dr. Susana Martínez Conde, Dr. Bibi Bielekova

Second row, left to right:
Dr. Heather Cameron, Dr. Leo Belluscio, next unknown, Dawn Hunter, Dr. Jeff Diamond, Dr. Walter Koroshetz, Dr. Juan de Carlos, Dr. Chris McBain, Dr. José Luis Trejo, Dr. Alan Koretsky, and Dr. Fernando de Castro


Below are photos documenting the Cajal exhibition currently on display at the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center of the NIH, and a selection of some of my artwork about Cajal and his life displayed on the right.




Man, Sunflower, and Nuclei Nests, graphite, acrylic and ink on paper, 18" x 24," 2014


Man as Sunflower, acrylic and graphite on paper, 14" x 17," 2014


Fledgling, acrylic, ink and graphite on Yupo, 18" x 24"


May Day:  Cajal in Spring, acrylic on Yupo paper, 26" x 40,"  2014

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring (here with a falcon)

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring