Art + BRAIN SYMPOSIUM: Presenter Biographies
UCLA and Washington University in St. Louis Presents:
Art + the Brain: Stories and Structures Symposium
Rebecca Messbarger, Professor of Italian, History, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Italian, Arts & Sciences
This discrete talk (about 40 minutes) focuses on the story of Anna Morandi’s dramatic self-portrait with brain from 1755 and the politics and metaphorical potency of anatomical art. I am also delighted to be part of a panel discussion related to our presentations. My stuff is very visually oriented so I'd show lots of images of wax anatomies.
Rebecca Messbarger is Professor of Italian, History, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Washington University, specializing in the Italian Enlightenment. Her most recent book is The Lady Anatomist: the Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini (U. of Chicago Press, 2010), finalist for the 2012 College Art Association Charles Rufus Morey Award. She is also the author of The Century of Women: Representations of Women in Eighteenth-Century Italian Public Discourse, published by University of Toronto press. She co-edited with Christopher Johns and Philip Gavitt the volume Benedict XIV and the Enlightenment: Art, Science and Spirituality, forthcoming with University of Toronto Press, and she co-edited and translated with Paula Findlen The Contest for Knowledge: Debates Over Women’s Learning in Eighteenth-Century Italy (U. of Chicago Press, 2005). She is the author of numerous articles, including “The Re-Birth of Venus in Florence’s Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History” in The Oxford Journal of the History of Collections (May 2012), which won the James L. Clifford Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Percy Adams Prize from the Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Messbarger is the recipient of grants and awards from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, among others.
Kathy Miller, Chair and Professor, Department of Biology, Arts & Sciences
The rapidly evolving methods to visualize the organization and dynamics of tissues, cells, and sub-cellular structures has revolutionized the types of information biologists can gather. Novel imaging techniques and new technical advances have made possible experiments that address questions which could not have been even conceived of in the past. This presentation will try to highlight some ways in which imaging has revolutionized biology research, specifically in the field of cell biology of structural components.
Kathryn G. Miller received her PhD degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Biochemistry. After a post-doctoral fellowship at University of California, San Francisco with Bruce Alberts, she joined the faculty at Washington University in Biology 1989, where she is currently the Biology Department Chair. Her research focuses on the structural proteins that mediate cell organization and specialization of different cell types. Imaging plays a critical role in her work. Grants from the NIH, NSF, and American Heart Association have supported this research. She also is active in local and national STEM education reform efforts. Her efforts in education been recognized by an Emerson Teaching Award in 2009 and by being named a National Academy of Sciences Teaching Fellow in 2009-10 and National Academy of Sciences Teaching Mentor in 2010-13. She is the principal investigator on several education grants, including grants from the HHMI, AMGEN foundation, NSF, Children’s Discovery Institute and AAU STEM Education Initiative. She is a Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) Vision and Change Leadership Fellow.
Sung Ho Kim, Associate Professor, College of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
ARCHITECTURAL MONSTERS becoming GODZILLA: Godzilla is a byproduct of the atomic bomb; its skin texture was inspired by the keloid scars seen on Hiroshima's survivors. Although Godzilla does not like humans, it will fight alongside humanity against common threats. When inquired if Godzilla was "good or bad", film producer Shogo Tomiyama likened it to a Shinto "God of Destruction" which lacks moral agency and cannot be held to human standards of good and evil. "He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin." Architectural Monsters Becoming Godzilla is presentation of design practice that seeks for regeneration of existing environments that transforms into monstrous living organisms.
Sung Ho Kim studied drawing and sculpture as a teenager at the Art Students League of New York and Harvard Graduate School of Design Career Discovery Program. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and an AA Diploma from Architectural Association of London, UK with Royal Institute of British Architects Parts I and II. He also received his Masters in Science in Architecture Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a project designer for Nasrine Seraji in Paris, France and Wellington Reiter in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served as a principal researcher for the Interrogative Design Group at Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT. Sung Ho taught at Rhode Island School of Design and was an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. He was a Visiting Professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea. Currently, he is a tenured Associate Professor of Architecture and Undergraduate Core Coordinator at Washington University in St. Louis. He was a founding director of Axi:Ome llc of Providence, RI from 2001 and has been director and owner of Axi:Ome llc of St. Louis with Heather Woofter since 2003.
Ron Leax, Professor, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Leax will present compositions representing the ambition to put thought into form/mind to matter. Operating on literal and metaphorical levels this work is grown and manipulated from molds and bacteria in brain agar material. The stories are of great scientists: Pasteur, Lister, Salk. The structures are the actual materials and processes of science.
From Live Lizards in 4 Dimensions (1984) to Brain Matters (2011) Leax's sculpture as been a romp through the sciences. Biology, chemistry, geology, ecology and cosmology have all been the grist for Leax's artistic mill. Leax received his BA from Brown University and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He currently holds the Halsey C. Ives Professorship of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Art at Washington University in St. Louis.
Larry Snyder, Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine
Story-telling in science - the tension between sticking to what we are sure of, versus telling a more elaborate and interesting story. Two good examples are mirror neurons - a type of neurons found in monkeys that have been argued to also exist in humans and (the story goes) to be involved in understanding the actions of people around us; and decision circuits - extrapolating from some very elementary decision circuits in monkeys to try to explain many different types of decisions.
Larry received his medical degree and Phd in Physiology at the University of Rochester in 1992. “Our laboratory studies how locations in space are represented in the cerebral cortex, and how those representations are used to guide eye and arm movements. More generally, how is sensory spatial information transformed into commands for movement? And, given a system in which this occurs, how can we analyze that transformation? Parietal cortex has long been implicated in the transformation of visual sensory information into motor commands. A patient with unilateral parietal damage may ignore objects in one half of the world, clothe only half of their body or eat from only half of their plate. Spatial memory is affected, and there are often motor deficits as well. In order to understand the role of the parietal cortex in representing space and subserving movement, we record from individual neurons in macaque monkeys while they perform complex visuo-motor tasks. The animals are trained to look at and reach for colored spots of light - a monkey video game. We ask how the locations of these spots are represented by neural activity in the brain. What frame of reference is used? Is there a single, generic representation or multiple special purpose representations? How is spatial information from other sensory systems combined with visually-derived information? How does the nature of the task, and what the animal intends to do, affect parietal processing? Is parietal cortex specifically involved in the learning of new sensory-motor mappings, or in coordinating eye and hand movement?”
Patricia Olynyk, Director, Graduate School of Art, Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
This presentation will discuss images in art and science and creative work inspired by the ways in which the brain constructs images of the body. A complete somatotopic map of the body surface exists in humans (and primates) allowing for the brain to recall repressed memories of the body. Depending on how the body is recalled and reactivated, a sensory reorganization of the body as a system can occur.
Patricia Olynyk’s work explores the dialectics of mind and body, of human and artificial and also of sensing and knowing. Photography, microscopy and biomedical imaging technologies offer new insights and interpretations of the human body and the environment, which allow us to probe the ways in which popular culture and institutional structures shape our understanding of science, medicine and the natural world.
Notable projects include: Sensing Terrains at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C, Dark Skies at the Art I Sci Center’s California NanoSystems Institute at U.C.L.A., and Eureka Poem at the Jordan Hall of Science, Digital Video Theater. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museo del Corso in Rome, the Saitama Modern Art Museum in Japan, the Universität der Künste in Berlin, and the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York.
Olynyk is director of the Graduate School of Art and Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, where she recently launched an Art I Science Fellows Program. She has also taught at the University of Michigan in the School of Art & Design in Ann Arbor, where she became one of the first artists in the US to be appointed as a research professor to a scientific unit. She completed her undergraduate work in Canada at the Alberta College of Art and Design and received her MFA degree with Distinction from the California College of the Arts. Olynyk later spent four years as a Monbusho Scholar and also a Tokyu Foundation Research Scholar in Kyoto, Japan. As former Chair of the Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF), the International Society for the Arts, Science and technology (Leonardo/ISAST), Olynyk co-organizes NY LASERs, a program that convenes monthly in New York, which includes artists, scientists, theorists, and curators to foster cross-disciplinary dialogues.