Silk NeuroArt Scarves: Inaugural Series

These are large-scale, 100% pure silk scarves, 140 x 140 cm (55 x 55 in). Given their size, they are more properly called wraps (skraistės in Lithuanian). The silk used is of the highest quality with silk twill weaving. The printing techniques are state of the art. 

For forty years I have been both a professional artist and a neurologist-neuroscientist. I have been artistically exploring the origins of thinking, of consciousness. How is it that we are aware of ourselves, of others? How is it that social interactions, culture and civilizations arise? Basically, what is it that makes us human? These silk NeuroArt scarves are the latest iteration of these artistic explorations. I am taking art off gallery and museum walls and bringing it out for the general public to use and enjoy.

All of these silk works of art, just as all my previous pieces, have multiple overlapping, interweaving layers of content, meaning and visual elements. Complexity of their design and content matches the complexity of our own thought processes.

NEURONAL SYMPHONY

This piece is in honor of the one-hundred-year anniversary of the birth of Marija Gimbutas. Four decades ago, I created an outdoor stone installation, in a flooded area of Quarry Hill Park in Rochester, Minnesota. The distribution of the stones was in keeping with ancient Lithuanian burial sites that Marija Gimbutas had researched and used in her doctoral dissertation. A photograph of this installation is the underlying image behind the neuronal profiles. In the center of the work, at the top, is a stylized letter M standing for Marija.

 

BLUE CONSCIOUSNESS

The original artwork was commissioned by the Chicago theatrical group, the Blue Man Group. This was 3 x 3 meters (10 x 10 feet) in size and was displayed on the outside of their Briar Street Theater building for four years. The underlying image is that of a polar bear that I photographed in the high Canadian arctic, on Beechy Island. This is where the Franklin expedition met it‘s doom in their search for the Northwest Passage.

 

DREAMS EXPLORATIONS

The underlying image of this piece is a photograph that I took of the cliffs in Sagres, Portugal, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is on these cliffs that Christopher Columbus learned how to sail and dreamed of discovering new worlds. This piece was selected by the American Academy of Neurology to be the first time that a work of art appeared on the front cover of their journal Neurology after 50 years of publishing.

 

CULTURE CENTER ORIGIN

The underlying image is of the three stones that mark the geographic center of Europe, just outside of the city of Vilnius, Lithuania. The written text was taken from the 1561 Virbalis Inventory where the Lutheran priest, Tomas Gedkantas, certified the authenticity of the document. His text was written in Latin. He worked closely with Martynas Mažvydas in publishing the first books printed in the Lithuanian language. It is in this inventory that the Plioplys surname first appears in history. In 1561 there were eight Plioplys families living in Virbalis, as free land owners. This is quite remarkable because serfdom would end in Lithuania only 300 years later.

 

VALLEY PEACEFULNESS

The original transformed photograph is that of a valley and the lake in it, found in the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado Rocky Mountains. This truly was a peaceful and isolated placed to visit. The original work, 4 meters wide, was commissioned by the University of Chicago to decorate their newly built hospital.

 

NON-ISOLATION / DISPLACEMENT

I grew up in a post-World War II immigrant home in Toronto, Canada. My parents planned to return to Lithuania imminently and did not teach me English as I was growing up. The first day at school was truly memorable—yelling and screaming in fright. I grew up in a world that was not Lithuania, nor was it Canada, nor North America. Displaced in the true sense of the word. The underlying image is a self-portrait. I took a handful of stones from Ellesmere Island in the High Canadian Arctic, and left them on another isolated island, Victoria Island, and photographed this ensemble. This was a truly pointless and meaningless displacement from one isolated geographic location to another.

 

CUBIT

This sequence of works deals with the location of the storage of our memories. We have one hundred billion neurons in our brains, with trillions of synaptic interconnections. The current neurobiologic explanation for the site of our memories is changes in the strength of synaptic interconnections. I do not think that is a sufficient explanation. We must also look at the quantum molecular level, and even further down into the strings of string theory. Thus, the fine details of this piece include the fuzziness of the quantum world and the fine strings of string theory.