Brain trees? Or do celebrities dance in a Mardi Gras parade? Ruffled rumba parties, brightly colored and ready for a party. Or maybe the networks of blood vessels? Coral structures? Leaf veins? Yes. They can be anything your mind wants them to be, because they are human brain cells. Your brain looks at itself – looking at its mirror image … almost.
These are Purkinje cells – neurons from the cerebellum. Biologist Dana Simmons is fascinated by these cells because they have many more branches – dendrites – than other neurons. They follow a model called the Purkinje model, but there are endless variations. They are arranged with great precision, not seen anywhere else in the nervous system. So why?
Dana Simmons – the artist – is fascinated by their natural beauty and their inherent power to control our physical movement and perhaps much more. It digitally reproduces and infuses images into our minds, coloring and arranging them in increasingly imaginary configurations. It can provoke emotions with color variations and even displace our thought patterns and opinions with subtle insinuations and inferences.
There are currently billions of these Purkinje babies hovering in your head. But no two are alike! Like snowflakes. They collect and exchange information with other cells from the first day of your life. Each relationship makes them a little different. Like us.
Dana Simmons has a doctorate. in neurobiology from the University of Chicago, where she studied autism spectrum disorder. She wants to know his connection to the cerebellum.
She would like to know where the inspiration comes from. She is also looking for the answer to
the main question we all need to find out for ourselves. Why? If we understand this, we may be able to understand for ourselves.
You can see more of her work online at: www.dana-simmons.com.
Jim Magner’s thoughts of Art
Purkinje cell-like patterns are observed in nature. This is a model so ubiquitous that you begin to see it everywhere, both in big and small things. Yet every cell is different, just as every tree is different. You see the same patterns in almost every living and growing form, even coral structures. It can be seen in bacterial colonies. And you see it in non-biological things like enlightenment. Keep looking and you will see it everywhere.
I see the cells as people, with heads, arms and legs – as dancers in those old Calypso movies. You can intuitively feel the sound of music and voices. And why not look at them as people? It’s as if my brain is looking at itself.
It’s a revelation to me how everything is connected together, amazing – swaying on the edge of the impossible. The models may not be universal, but they are certainly global. They connect us as people. They connect us to the physical earth – to the miracle of creation.
The fact that Dana Simmons (see Artist’s Profile) sees them as art is as natural as you would look at any picture of a landscape or figure, because they are: a form of art that reaches the supernatural. The spiritual is what is somehow inherent in our mind.
No, all art may not be sacred, but recognizing real-world paintings, including people painted on a flat surface, is a miracle. They are somehow captured among the billions of neurons we call the brain. From movement and balance, to thought, to the flow of ideas, to the recognition of beauty … to the understanding of the world and who we are.
These are the basic questions … and answers, if we really watch and listen. And inspiration? Maybe it doesn’t come from the brain. It may have been given to the mind if asked in the right way.
In the galleries
2108 R Street NW, 18 June
Studio Gallery presents five very successful artists:
Deborah Addison Coburn: No good reason “There is no concept, no cause, just painting. And fun.
Joan Levine: Earthwork: Her paintings celebrate “earthworks” created by farmers and others who cultivate the land. Nature provides its raw materials and the result is the transformation of nature into beautiful works of art.
Wayne Page: Be careful what you wish for. His “… works of art are not only beyond the fog, but also behind the curtain of technology.” This is a commentary on the transformation of digital technologies in our mental landscape. They need to be seen.
Harriet L.eser: Silicon Hills and Valleys. Playing with shape and depth, Harriet Lesser presents silicone sculptures imitating the shapes of hills and valleys.
Theirry Guillemin: Bench after the rain. Her job is an invitation to pause – take time to relax from everything that is frantic in the world. It works.
901 New York Ave NW
Touchstone presents two parallel shows:
Makda Kibour until July 3. Makda Kibur spends a lot of time studying the local tribes of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia, “people unaffected by the outside world who rely solely on nature to fulfill their desires and needs. Macda found his artistic voice there as well. It uses abstract painting as a visual language to shape and form color and line.
Heather Lynn: Super Favorite, June 2-26. This is a “study of the emotions and social constructions around happiness.”
American Painting Fine Art
The Washington, DC Scene
June 11 – Sept. 24
Reception: 11, 5-8 June
This marks the beginning of the 15th annual exhibition of works that “capture the current vitality, diversity, beauty, history and cultural highlights of the capital of our nation.” The show includes most of the regular visitors of the gallery, many of whom I have profiled in this section. This year, a $ 100 prize is offered for the film “The Most Captured Scene in Washington, DC.” www.classicamericanpainting.com
Jim is an artist and writer on Capitol Hill [email protected]