Fall 2015  
Tues + Thurs 9:00 -10:50am – CFA 300                                                                             

Course Description

This is an art making course designed to explore interactions and reflections between the science of the brain (neuropsychology and neuroscience) and fine art.  We will investigate topics that bridge these disciplines such as memory, perception, brain dysfunction and identity. This is an opportunity for you to create work that explores or reflects on brain and behavior research.  Emphasis is placed on challenging you to develop a personal vision to individual creative expression.  Themes in the course are reinforced by guests from the neuroscience and arts communities as well as readings, media presentations and fieldwork.  You may work in any creative media.

Learning Outcomes

In this course you will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore concepts in neuroscience, specifically in the area of memory, perception, brain dysfunction and identity. 
  • Use the brain/neuroscience as a muse and inspiration for creative works.
  • Integrate research in your investigative art making practice.
  • Demonstrate fundamentals of the art making process: ideation, concept development, problem solving and intuitive exploration.  
  • Effectively communicate concepts in visual, written and oral forms.
  • Display creativity, curiosity and cohesiveness in the development and realization of creative works.
  • Expand both your scientific literacy and artistic literacy.

This course includes media presentations, guest speakers, reading/writing assignments and studio time to work on projects. Students are also expected to continue working on projects outside of class. Class time may also be used for individual student-instructor meetings.


There is no required text for this class.

Referenced books – On reserve for our class at Hunt Library Reference Desk (first floor).

Please be sure to visit the library, have a cup or tea/coffee and browse these books
     Cajal’s Butterflies of the Soul by Javier DeFelipe
     Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
     The Man who Mistook his wife for a Hat + other books by Oliver Sacks
     The Man Who Wasn’t There by Anil Ananthaswamy
      Portraits of the Mind by Carl Schoonover
      Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon (in Pittsburgh 12/7, reserved seats for our class)

Guest Presenters and Collaborators

Dr. Wayne Wu, Associate Professor
Associate Director, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC)
Mind, Body and Conscious Seeing

Dr. Elissa Aminoff, CNBC Research Scientist
Constructing Memory  
Sheep Dissection Lab

Dr. Marlene Behrmann, Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Dept. of Psychology, Co-Director, CNBC
Insights into brain function; the study of disorders

Mo Dawley, Art and Drama Librarian, Curator CMU Artists’ Books collection
Artists' Books

Martha Rial, Photographer
Spectrum Disorders and Photography

Holly Blitzman's kindergarten class, The Children's School
Imagining you brain while dancing, drawing, snoring and laughing

Greg Dunn, artist, neuroscientist  (via SKYPE)

Elsa Limbach, Choreographer, Dancer
Body + Mind-Brain Workshop

Dr. John Pyles, CNBC Research Scientist
How the brain processes visual information using neuro imaging technique


1- Memory

2- Different, not less - (autism, brain injury….)

3- Brain Zzzzz’s  (sleep/dream)

4- Self-Defined Project + 100 word personal essay


In addition to projects, there will be several written or visual reflections due.  These are typically related to guest speakers, dissections or field trips.


Evaluation is based on:

  • Attendance and participation (critiques, discussions)
  • Ideas and development (originality, risk taking, work ethic)
  • Execution and timely completion (projects, reflections)
  • Presentation and communication (discussing your ideas in progress, written proposals)


It is important for you to arrive on time.  Attendance is taken at the beginning of class. You are allowed only three unexcused absences. Each subsequent absence will result in the drop of a letter grade.  Three tardy arrivals equal one absence. If you are ill, and unable to attend class, please send me an e-mail. Please keep me informed. 

Never miss a critique –even if your work is not complete – be there for your fellow Art+Brain comrades!

Disabilities/Academic Accommodations

If you have a diagnosed/documented disability that affects your participation in class and course work, please let me know early in this course so that arrangements for reasonable accommodation can be made.


If you have any questions any time, please remember I am always available to meet with you.

Use of mobile devices, texting is not permitted during class