2016 Honorable Mention – Rachel Werthmann

(lost) connections

This artwork was inspired by the scientific process that occurs in the brain’s neural pathways to connect and send messages throughout the body. The brain consists of billions of neurons that all serve as information conveyors about anything from motor reflexes to refined thoughts and feelings. Specifically, in this piece, I focused on the concept of how thoughts, ideas, and memories are created and connected to each other in the brain. All of the aforementioned are produced from neurons firing neurotransmitters from one cell to the next. This transmission occurs in mere milliseconds, which is why humans are able to think and react so quickly.

From a more holistic standpoint, it’s truly amazing to ponder how all of our life experiences were created from the firing of miniscule neurons. It’s also astonishing to recognize that our brains have the ability to recreate these experiences in our minds without much effort. Our brains are also fine-tuned to forgetting and repressing memories we may not wish to remember or experience again.

This was the basis of my piece. I wished to create the feeling of chaotic thoughts racing through the mind via neural pathways. I used found telephone wire to represent thoughts traveling endlessly through the mind, and bamboo tetrahedral structures to create a network of neurons. I also placed some film negatives inside of the brain to give more insight to the images humans “see” in our mind’s eye when recounting experiences. The wire and photo negatives spilling out of the brain represent repressed memories we may not remember in the forefront of our minds. However, because all of our thoughts and experiences are all connected in the mind, they may still affect our everyday cognition and behavior.