Tuesday, February 07, 2012

art and the brain

For those of us who wonder about how/where the brain contributes to art, scientists at Johns Hopkins are doing an ongoing study of an artist whose career was interrupted by brain damage.

Sunday afternoon I attended one of the most remarkable and fascinating exhibits I had ever seen: An Artist's Journey Through Amnesia. I would never have known about this exhibit were it not for an artist friend of mine who had encountered Lonni Sue while she was recovering (an ongoing process) and was working on her art.  He knew about her struggles because she was from the Princeton area, where the exhibit is currently taking place. The exhibit had been at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and is now in New Jersey at Morven in Princeton (the former governer's mansion - now a museum).

In 2007, Lonni Sue Johnson, a talented, whimsical, prolific artist and illustrator who had illustrated books, New Yorker Magazine covers, and done art art for the NY Times, was stricken by encephalitis which left her with permanent brain damage and amnesia.Also, click on this link to see the video about her.  She is not only an artist, she plays the viola, which she had no memory of ever having played.
 It is amazing to track the progress of her work and how it has changed (and yet retained many of the elements it had before her brain damage).  If you are anywhere within driving distance of Morven in Princeton, NJ it is worth seeing. 

3 comments:

Uniquely Yours Creations said...

Thank you for sharing this story Rayna. Lonni can't remember faces, names or even what happened a few moments before; yet she still draws beautifully. I find that such a wonder!

Terry said...

I would love to see this exhibit. One of my dearest, oldest friends had viral encephalitis three years ago. Her brain damage was probably not as severe as Lonni's, but severe enough to change her personality quite noticeably and destroy random parts of her memories. I see her struggling to be present and make sense of what has happened. I am both deeply grateful for her recovery and terribly sad for the loss of her verve and humor and irreverence. She is a different person.

Lisa Kerpoe said...

Sounds like a great exhibit. I'll be in Princeton next month - I'll look it up.