Monday, November 17, 2014

SfN14 Art of Neuroscience: artcollisions

This post is part of my coverage of the Art of Neuroscience Exhibit held from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm through Wednesday. The artists are located in the Convention Centers L Street Bridge.

artcollisions: Where science and art collide on a quilted canvas

The Action Potential by Joni Seidenstein
Joni Seidenstein is the artist behind artcollisions. She uses color and texture in the form of quilted fabric to combine science and art. Joni and I discussed her work in general and she allowed me to choose a couple of pieces for her to expand upon. Many caught my eye but I began with the fundamentals: The Action Potential.  

Joni said a friend on Twitter gave her the idea for this piece. The golden and rosy tones sandwiched between black and green bands put a spotlight on the action potential. Joni chose to use bold iron-on thread for the lines of the action potential and then added fine strands of dendrites branching off the action potential. As neuroscientists, we tend to focus on the propagation of the signal from the cell body to the axon terminal. What I love about this piece is that it highlights the moment when the action potential jumps from the axon terminal to the dendrites of the post-synaptic cell via neurotransmitters. The second panel from the top has shapes reminiscent of vesicles and the top panel I imagine to be the neurotransmitter molecules. The combination of color, pattern, and texture make the piece dynamic.

For Joni, the process of quilting and applying textures is meditative. First, she creates the quilted backgrounds, which she likens to the harmony in music. After quilting, she hangs the pieces on her design wall and steps back to get an idea of what shed like to add on top. Adding the textures and recognizable features is, to her, like the melody floating on top of music. Floating is an apt description because Joni loves the similarities in nature found in our bodies, in space, and in the ocean. Some of her pieces have ocean themes inspired by these similarities, such as The Brainy Deep which can be seen at her booth.

Alien in Your Brain by Joni Seidenstein.
An astrocyte takes center stage in Alien in Your Brain layered over several patterned fabrics. This piece connects the brain and space motif she enjoys with an addition of silver stars sewn around the astrocyte processes. Joni says, Brains are infinite like space is infinite; we dont know the details of either yet.

Stop by Joni's booth between 10 am - 4 pm through Wednesday. You can follow her on Twitter at @artcollisions and visit her website (

You can also read more about Joni on Shelly Fan's blog Neuroexia

1 comment:

  1. Love your synthesis of our conversation! Thanks so much for coming and picking my brain and then writing this delightful, articulate piece.