Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lost in Thought

July 2017 - Toronto ON

Last summer I had followed The TELUS Health Brain Project.

Toronto is gearing up for a second year of raising awareness with over 100 new one-of-a-kind brain creations by local and international artists with a focus on bolder designs in their medium of choice.

I have taken the descriptions from the Telus website.

Jogging Memories - Union Station Total 9
A Brainy Thought - FCP                 Total 5
Sony Centre for the Arts                  Total 1
Lost in Thought - City Hall              Total 15

2017 TOTAL TO DATE - 30

This week's brains were found at City Hall.

Luminate acts as a signifier that reminds us all of the psychological and physical importance of "lighting up" our environment and creating a positive aura despite the hardships that shadow us with fear. Through its movement, energy and markings, the brain sculpture Luminate suggests that even the smallest mark can make a world of a difference in our interconnected experience.

Unleash Your Mind
Each "bindi” represents the universal connectivity of humanity. The circles represent notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection. Our memories are not discrete files which can be identified, but instead, a complex mosaic produced by different parts of our brain working in tandem. We had sought to create layers of connections, binding individual fragments into one, unleashing a synergy. Just like the brain, memories and humans are all different but the same. All of our paths and stories are connected. Our connections to the world and our relationships with others are what make us timeless. There is no single place where a given memory lives in the brain; it’s scattered across many different regions.

The Idea Incubator Brain or “Thinkubator”
This piece by artist Ted Hamer explores the idea of a brain as an idea incubator. Often when coming up with an idea, Hamer will collect inspiration and let it incubate in his mind for a time.
The bird symbolizes the idea that has been developed through the process of incubation with the brain and nest working together to develop the “thinkubation.”

Butterflies on the Brain
Butterflies on the Brain was created using traditional Italian "Smalti" glass tiles and a modern adhesive, and was grouted after the entire piece was assembled.
There is significant improvisation within the basic form of the monarch butterfly. Butterflies are associated with the soul across many cultures. Delicate yet enduring, they undergo remarkable metamorphosis in their lives, and in this case serve as a visual metaphor for the changing brain.

Elastic Brain
Elastic Brain portrays the mind as a rubber band ball: a colourful, layered ball of thoughts created from such daily experiences as food, the office, school, newspaper and mail, the sidewalk on the way home…
When our brain learns, new colours are added, and thoughts multiply and stretch. However, connections can also snap or be buried under new thoughts.
The Elastic Brain contains tension but also resilience. If it falls, it will rebound.

Vitale is an exploration and dedication to the artist’s grandmother, Philomena, who lost a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's in 2016. Philomena had a true talent for singing, soloing with Leonard Bernstein in his "Mass" at Yale and in Vienna, Austria. Despite the disease growing stronger, Philomena's memory of her performance never faded; she would routinely and proudly tell her grandchildren the colourful details each time they visited her. In her final days, a video recording of this life-defining performance became available for the first time in four decades. Upon showing it to her, it was as if the disease, if only for a moment, was silenced. She remembered everything.
This piece honours that special memory, which not even Alzheimer's could take away from her. The title of the piece is Philomena's maiden name Vitale, meaning "of life.”

In fullnessabsentness of… (a time)
The artist has applied the United Nations – some 196 countries – to the surface of the brain. Each flag has been hand-painted and where necessary, a hand-cut print of a country's emblem adhered.
Memory and identity are made evident with the entanglement of our world community. The colour of our streamers inhabits our collective blue marble while revealing whole regions that have lost remembrance, incompleteness and cognition.

Progression – Journey through the Darkness
This photograph exhibits the stark contrast between light (the brightly coloured framework of contours and orbs) and dark (the space between). It is only on our journey through the darkness that we can understand and appreciate the relief of the light. We each have our own internal structure and pattern of light, and it is our unique perception of and personal attachment to these patterns that assist us in making sense of the world, ourselves and those around us.

Tick Tick Tick
Artist Andre Petterson is inspired by an endless fascination with script, notation, the exploration of lines, splatters and mark-making. He is interested in old machines and communication devices of the past that served as vehicles from which language emerges. This piece is an expression of those interests.

Inspired by advocacy, empowerment and acceptance, this piece explores the dimensionality of mental illness and the role we as a society play in forwarding and creating awareness. Reflecting on the important notion that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may face many misconceptions and stereotypes, the intention of this piece is to capture the unique essence of an individual despite these assumptions and reinforce that they are more than just a series of labels or medical terms.
The Artist Katrina Elena

Dear caregivers… this art piece is for you. It is to remind you that you are beautiful and you are loved.
As an artist, Chantal Larocque is sensitive to the emotions of others. She sympathizes with the distress of both the person who manifests symptoms of brain diseases, and those who experience them – the caregiver and the family members.
The black and white photos represent all of our memories, which can be shadowed by life’s circumstances. We need to remember that in time even the most barren soil can be renewed and bloom again. Flowers are universally loved. Their simple presence can beautify any room, and cheer any person – their blossoms cover over memories and give us hope. The sweet little Forget-Me-Not blooms are to remember those we love, even if they’re still with us right now. We need to create vivid memories that will last!

Theta Star
This Brain Project painting is in artist Justin Blayney’s space/colour series. Theta is a brainwave state associated with sleep and deep meditation as we focus inward.

Love on the Brain
Artist Callen Schaub uses his unique process-based approach to painting to explore the emotional effects of love and how it can colour our perception of the world around us.

At dawn, the evolution of the world appeared to me
Biomaterials in dialogue with our cells, intra-ocular implants, stem-cell tissue re-creation, organ substitution with the use of technology like 3D printers, neuro-prothesis, a brain-computer interface implanted in the human body.
If our brain becomes a machine, what will happen with our emotions? What do we lose by enhancing the human? How will we preserve a definition of who we are? What would become of individual and collective thought, of beauty, of creativity?

I·wát Atste
Artist Monique Bedard is inspired by storytelling and the healing journey, individually and as a community. She combines painting, drawing, beadwork and collage to examine stories that are connected to the mind, body and spirit. She aims to address the pain of intergenerational trauma as well as intergenerational healing to communicate experiences from the inside out. By unearthing her own stories, she is able to strengthen connections where the process creates awareness and understanding; this experience is ultimately part of the healing journey.

“The gel transfers are fragmented photos of our ancestors and the land. This represents how colonization disconnects us from our family and Mother Earth. The florals and the beadwork are the strength that brings us back home.”


  1. Butterflies on the Brain really stands out to me.

  2. Wow, the stories behind Vitale, Spark, and Forget-me-not are touching -and I like how they visualized it. Regarding color, Progression is my favorite! It struck me that most of of the artists you showed held onto to the realistic shape of the brain. Ah, now art is calling me!


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