By Valentina Borghesani & AmanPreet Badhwar
And here we are, January 2020! A new decade is starting, with end-of-the-year reflections giving way to wishes and resolutions for the future. As Chair and Secretary of the BrainArt Special Interest Group (SIG), the youngest SIG within OHBM, we will here outline our inner structure to introduce you to our members, briefly cover our past endeavors, and finally sketch our plans for the coming year. Buckle up!
The coming of age of OHBM Brain & Art initiatives
For us, 2019 has been the year of the transition from a rather informal group of aficionados, supported and sustained by the Neurobureau, to a structured team within our Society. Last year's meeting in Rome thus signed not only the 25th anniversary of our community get together, but also our graduation, so to speak [you can read more about our transition here].
For this second year of activity, our board consists of eight members:
Chair: Aman Badhwar, PhD, Université de Montréal
Secretary and Diversity & Inclusivity Committee Liaison: Valentina Borghesani, PhD, University of California San Francisco
Art Exhibition Manager: Ting Xu, PhD,Child Mind Institute
Treasurer: Sridar Narayanan, PhD, McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, McGill University
Past Chair: Alain Dagher, MD, McGill University
Council liaison: Cameron Craddock, PhD,University of Texas at Austin
Advisory committee: Daniel Margulies, PhD, ICM - CNRS, & Pierre Bellec, PhD, Université de Montréal
Would you like to be constantly updated on our activities? Follow us on twitter and help us reach colleagues and friends across continents and disciplines!
Are you ready to take one step more and help us out more directly? Join our Slack workspace! Anything can be useful: from simple brainstorming of ideas to actual volunteering during the conference)
Finally, do you wish to join the decision making process and take on some of the great responsibilities that come with great power? Consider applying for the next cycle of board members! We will soon be accepting candidature for:
3. Art Competition & Onsite Exhibit Manager-elect
4. Social Media & Communications Manager-elect
Feel free to reach out to our current members to know more about what each position would entail.
Ars Cerebri - the 2019 Exhibit & Competition in Rome
Most art historians would agree that the Ancient Romans had a very peculiar approach to the Arts: artistic expressions had to be somewhat useful, purposeful. They could be means of celebration (arco di trionfo), or expression of devotion (statues in temples). Never something aesthetically pleasing for pleasure itself. The second key aspect of the Art in Ancient Rome was its stylistic eclecticism: elements and themes were constantly borrowed from other mediterranean cultures such as the Greeks, Etruscans, and Egyptians.
Is our community only using (visual) Arts to improve visualization of our neuroimaging findings? No, not really. Or at least not in our view of a symbiotic and mutually beneficial exchange. We believe that Scientists can improve how results are represented and distributed, but also that Artists can be inspired by them. Ultimately, both paths allow society at large to better digest scientific discoveries and their implications. Crucial in this regard is to respect the talent and expertise of both sides.
Like the Romans, our Society is definitely open in spirit, with OHBM striving to promote open science with awards, our sister OpenScience SIG, and the new open publishing platform, Aperture (for which we helped selecti the new logo - spoiler alert: it’s wonderful!).
Our exhibit and Competition during OHBM 2019, Ars Cerebri, aspired to embody this message. Because we all know that while words only spoken will fly away, words put into writing will remain, and words turned into Art will live in perpetuity. Here is a taste of what we offered in Rome, but you can also enjoy the full catalogue of Ars Cerebri and check out all pieces submitted on the dedicated gallery!
NeuroDiversity - the 2020 Exhibit & Competition in Montreal
For OHBM 2020, our exhibit theme will be NeuroDiversity, developed along three axes. First, we will invite selected artists to present their takes on neurodiversity. These works will range from giving underrepresented groups in neuroscience a voice, to the idea that some neurological differences should be seen as non-pathological forms of human variation. All our abilities and faculties range along a continuum and we all just represent one dot in a wide, diverse, spectrum.
In a complementary fashion, we will be showcasing art pieces by neurodiverse populations, for which Art can be a means of communication, an instrument for therapy, or a source of solace and pleasure. From neurodegenerative diseases to epilepsy, various communities have been contacted and will take part in the exhibit.
Finally, we will include pieces reflecting the (above-and-beyond-neuro) diversity within the OHBM community. Our Society houses scientists from all over the world and we want to celebrate the geographical, ethical and cultural richness this brings us.
To this end, we encourage all members of OHBM to download from this folder their favorite brain outline, and fill it with whichever (colored) pattern they like and feel represented by. Personalized postcards should then be sent to ohbm[dot]brainart[at]gmail[dot]com. We will be collecting them and displaying them during the conference in Montreal as an artistic collaborative collage.
As in previous years, the competition will be held online relying on the support of the Neurobureau. Submissions will be accepted starting in February until mid-June (stay tuned to our social media for prompt updates!). Awards will be given for the following categories:
All artworks submitted to the competition will be exhibited digitally at the Exhibit, as well as the Student and Postdoc SIG and NeuroBureau Networking Social when the winners will be announced. In keeping with the tradition, the winners will be announced during the Open Science SIG party.
Our last words are to acknowledge all the artists and OHBM members who, through the years, supported our endeavors.