The Making of 'Better Together'
This year brought me a big commission for a large institution and I have spent the last five months making 'Better Together'. It was really a dream project for me!
I was asked to create a piece utilizing T-shirts from Epilepsy Awareness campaigns and any other materials I wanted to use to create this 36x48 inch piece. I got started in early January 2022 embroidering some of the flowers and the bird, and I have just completed it in mid-May. Below you will find a link to the Youtube video which compiles many clips over hours and hours of making, compressing 5 months into less than 5 minutes.
The process start to finish entailed: First I designed the brain using fabric collage techniques, carefully considering what fabrics look good together and where to place the pieces of T-shirts I received. Each of the cerebral lobes is done in a slightly different color range and yet they all blend together. Once the fabric design was done, I sewed all of the pieces onto the canvas back using my sewing machine and invisible thread. When that was complete, I began the intensive period of hand embroidery which took about 3 months. I even took the piece on the road with me during a long road-trip and you can see me stitching in a hotel room at night, During the final stages of embroidery I added bits and bobs of trim, lace and buttons and even a golden neuron charm that I had in my stash. In the final steps, I stretched the canvas onto a large canvas frame, stapled it into place and added gesso and finally several coats of paint.
The really great part about doing this commission was that I learned a lot about Epilepsy along the way. Some of this shows up in the piece: purple being the predominant color as that is the color used to promote epilepsy awareness during the month of November every year, and red is not used (except very sparingly) as it can be a trigger for some kinds of seizures. The title 'Better Together' was taken from one of the T-shirts I received and reflects the role that so many people play in the treatment of Epilepsy.
The most startling piece of information about epilepsy is the prevalence of it. One in 26 people will experience some form of epilepsy during their lifetime. If you'd like to learn more about epilepsy - I can recommend these sites:
Cook Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
In support of #BrainAwarenessWeek
I'm celebrating the end of Brain Awareness Week - March 12-18, 2018 - with a fundraising art auction. I'll be sending the below 12x12" original work of art ($450 value) to the highest bidder who makes a donation to a brain-related charity of their choosing. The bidding starts at $100 and closes Sunday, March 25 at 5PM EST.
Pretty much everyone is touched in one way or another by brain disease or injury. Personally, friends and family of mine have been touched by Alzheimers, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors and traumatic brain injuries. We can all help by donating to organizations that support research, care and education.
Here is how the auction works:
Suggested charities :
I'm particularly interested in those organizations that fund neuroscience research but I also highly value the organizations that give support and care to patients and caregivers. I've made the above list of the top organizations I'd love to see supported and I'm happy to add to the list if you'd like to make recommendations in the comments. Please note that I will look them up online and make sure they are viable nonprofits with track records and high ratings from an online nonprofit rater such as Charity Navigator.
You can email me directly at Bundesen(at)gmail.com or just leave comments below. Make sure you add your email address and note that it will not be published. I'm the only one who will have access to it.
Thanks as always for stopping by and taking the time to visit my website. Hit the link below to see what work of mine is for sale. I have a wide range of originals and prints available - almost all of them are BRAINS - Yay!
Adventuring to SfN17
It's been two weeks since I traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in my first ever Art of Neuroscience Exhibition at the Society for Neuroscience annual convention with 30,000 attendees. In a word - amazing.
The art exhibition was fairly small with only 7 booths and each of us had something really unique to offer. Links to my fellow artists below if you'd like to learn more about them. And, as the newbie at the show, I have to say they were all kind and helpful!
The best part of the show for me was the response to my work by neuroscientists. People from all over the world came by my booth and talked to me about my work and appreciated it. And by now, pieces of mine have been carried as far as Japan, Turkey, Spain, Brazil and Greece.
It was an incredibly gratifying experience and I hope to be able to attend next year as well in San Diego, California - my old home state.
In the meantime, here is what's on my reading list:
An Artist's Insomnia
This last week has been a bad one for sleep. Insomnia is a problem I've had off and on my entire life. Sometimes I can track it to a specific cause like that 3pm cup of coffee or the chocolate I had in the evening. Sometimes it is my anxious brain spinning out of control - rewriting the many to do lists I have - over and over in my head, or worrying about the thing I didn't do... Do you suffer too? Here is advice from the Sleep Foundation on What to do When you Can't Sleep.
I've learned that instead of tossing and turning all night, I am a happier person if I get up and do something. This week I worked on a rainbow brain embroidery until 4am two nights in a row. Embroidery is relaxing for me and BONUS! I feel like I'm getting some work done - so, instead of just being tired the next day, I feel accomplished and tired.
And, sometimes my very handsome cat, Ben, keeps me company.
What do you do when you can't sleep? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below.
Recently I was treated to spending an afternoon with my friend Linda and her daughter Monica. Linda and I first connected at a shared workplace when she saw my very first two Neuro Art pieces and asked if I could create a piece to her specifications. In particular, she wanted the brain to face the other direction. My first two were left facing and she wanted a right facing brain, explaining that she had a special connection, as her daughter had a hemispherectomy when she was young and had the right half of her brain removed.
It was at least a year later when I actually got to meet Monica, an incredibly happy, engaging, and gregarious 29 year old woman who leads an active life in pursuit of both what makes her happy, and in service to others. Below is an edited 16 minute interview with Monica and her Mom about her surgery, her life and what she wants you to know about being disabled. It is missing a few key bits of information which got edited out: most importantly, Monica has worked for the last 9 years in a hospital as a toy cleaner - she goes in 3 days a week and loves her job. She also loves horse back riding! And, as you'll hear she lives a "happy, happy, happy life!"
Thanks to both Monica and her mom, Linda for sharing their story with me. Due to privacy concerns I am not sharing a photo of them but above is the piece that I made for them and that hangs in their home.
In case you prefer to read the interview - a transcript pdf file is below:
In exactly 9 days I will be arriving in Toronto where I will get to see my Brain Project sculpture on the streets of the city - live and in person! How thrilling to see my first international exhibition and to be a part of this large effort to increase awareness about, and funding for, Alzheimer's care and research.
This is the 2nd year of the Brain Project an awareness building and fundraising effort launched by the Baycrest Foundation. 100 artists were selected to design a brain sculpture for the project and their work is now displayed on the streets of Toronto through the end of August. In September, the brains go on sale to benefit Baycrest programs.
I could not be more thrilled to be participating this year. Photos of my completed brain sculpture - both sides - are below. Read on to find out more about my stepmother Elaine who was the inspiration behind my involvement.
My piece is titled 'Not Forgotten'. It started as a collage of fabric and was then embellished with hand embroidery, beads and trim exploring the thread connecting past and present. It was inspired by Elaine who suffered from dementia in her final years. The last time I saw her she didn’t recognize me. After asking for my name, she smiled and said : “Laura… that’s one of my favorite names.” I knew then that somewhere deep inside her she had not forgotten.
Elaine was a fearless explorer and traveler and below are some photos that are just a snapshot of her intrepid spirit. They were taken in 1986 when she embarked on an around-the-world trip with her best friend Sandra, stopping off in Pakistan to see me and my husband where we were living for two years. During the visit we traveled up the rugged Karakorum Highway to the mountainous town of Gilgit. A trip that not many western women in their 60s would have taken. Did I say fearless? I can't think of a better word for her.
I once asked her what made her so brave and she told me that after she lost my father suddenly in a plane crash she realized the worst thing she could imagine had already happened to her, and to be afraid of anything after that was pointless.
I miss her still...
Visit my piece on the Brain Project, vote for your favorite artist brain and donate too, if you can, to this important work.
And, thanks for being here and sharing in my journey. If you're not already in my Inner Circle you can join here! - I send out a newsy email about once a month.
Chronicling process - from start to finish - click on each photo to see the caption and let me know if you have any questions! It's a long, slow process but I LOVE every moment of it.
I just returned from attending the Brain Health Fair 2017 in Boston, sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology and I learned SO much - especially about the prevention of Alzheimer's and dementia. As a 60 year old woman, my interest is very personal and I wish I had this information 30 years ago.
Here are my most important takeaways:
There is of course so much more to learn and know about brain health but these were my big takeaways and now I am heading off to the gym, planning to shop for all the right foods on my way home, and signing up for that dance class soon!!
For more information visit The Women's Alzheimer's Movement founded by Maria Shriver, a force committed to finding out why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women.
Chronicling my adventures as a Neuro Artist. I love to make work centered on our magnificent brains and learn about how it all works in the process..