"Configuration" by Rose Umerik, JGO Gallery

Why Your Brain Craves More Art

By Laura Jackson

Current research on art and the brain confirm what art lovers have always known: Art is good for you and your brain on many levels.

One of the foremost scholars linking modern art and its relationship to the structure of the mind and brain, Jonathan Fineberg, explains that art images can actually help us organize our thoughts, as well as find new ways to represent them in our memory. His fascinating new book, Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain, examines the many ways we create meaning from form.
Here in Park City, our vibrant and compelling art scene presents amazing opportunities to expand our minds and hearts through the beauty of art.

ART AND THOUGHT
Fineberg’s book discusses how ambiguity and subjectivity in art can actually enable our brain to expand in ways that help us navigate the rest of our world. He writes, “Art, like falling in love, simultaneously disorganizes and nurtures the self toward a creative reordering.”

"Bringer of Sunshine" by Mackenzie Thorpe, Thomas Anthony Galley
“Bringer of Sunshine” by Mackenzie Thorpe, Thomas Anthony Galley
"Configuration" by Rose Umerik, JGO Gallery
“Configuration” by Rose Umerik, JGO Gallery

Thomas Anthony Gallery
MACKENZIE THORPE
“Art is not about the object itself, any piece of art is a vehicle to bring you an experience to provoke a thought, an emotion or a new perspective, the art is the experience you have with the piece.”

JGO Gallery
ROSE UMERLIK
“My aim is not only to mirror the intricacies of my personal story, but also to connect with the viewer, to echo the personal, emotional struggles that resonate with each of us, and that are present in the collective human mind and heart. Th e ‘story’ that emerges in a painting will usually come from a distinct moment when I recognize a human experience in the way two forms are relating to each other, or the interaction of lines within a color field.” (see previous page for artist’s work).

"Zeus" by Julian Gustlin, Gallery MAR
“Zeus” by Julian Gustlin, Gallery MAR

Gallery MAR
JYLIAN GUSTLIN
“Art quiets the chatter of my mind and sets me free. I see beauty and mathematical sequences everywhere I look—in nature, buildings, music, running, bees, rabbits, flowers, and more. In terms of the intersection of math and art, for me there is no difference.” For several years, Gustlin has been working on a series of paintings based on the Fibonacci mathematical theories.

ART CAN SIGNAL THE BRAIN TO DECREASE STRESS LEVELS
Neuroscientists have long shown that chronic stress and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause frightening damage to our brains. But there’s good news in recent research from the University of Westminster in London finding that study participants’ stress levels decreased aft er a lunchtime visit to an art gallery. Not only did the gallery visitors self-report lower stress, but they also tested as having lowered concentrations of cortisol.

"Crossings" by Audra Weaser, Julie Nester Gallery
“Crossings” by Audra Weaser, Julie Nester Gallery

Julie Nester Gallery
AUDRA WEASER
“I hope when people experience the work, that they have memories of their own that they are reminded of and that they’re taken to a place that is calming for them as they interpret the painting however they want. I hope it inspires them with their own experiences.”

"Water Dancer" by Bret Webster, Bret Webster Images
“Water Dancer” by Bret Webster, Bret Webster Images

Bret Webster Images
BRET WEBSTER
“Simple splashes of water are always pleasant to look at for us humans! ‘Water Dancer’ has been a great example of how powerfully engrossing they can be. We see things in them…we anthropomorphize! Surface tension, viscosity, momentum, gravity, optics, color frequencies, on and on! But in the end they are just playful, whimsical splashes of water that even a child can enjoy!”

VIEWING ART TRIGGERS A SURGE OF DOPAMINE
When Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at University College London, scanned the brains of study subjects, he found that viewing art could trigger a surge of the chemical dopamine into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain. Known as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” dopamine has been linked to everything from falling in love to warding off depression and even protecting our brains from aging. His series of brain-mapping experiments looked at the increased stimulation and blood fl ow occurring when participants viewed various photos of art.

When Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at University College London, scanned the brains of study subjects, he found that viewing art could trigger a surge of the chemical dopamine into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain. Known as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” dopamine has been linked to everything from falling in love to warding off depression and even protecting our brains from aging. His series of brain-mapping experiments looked at the increased stimulation and blood fl ow occurring when participants viewed various photos of art.

"Lovers" by John Kennedy, Trove Gallery
“Lovers” by John Kennedy, Trove Gallery

Trove Gallery
JOHN KENNEDY
“A sculpture should be a visual communicator, coaxing, even begging, the viewer to participate, to understand, and to appreciate the very personal emotions instilled in the figures. You can tell so much from a figure’s body language. Even the tilt of the head shows a particular mood and emotion. In this way, the body is a vehicle for the expression of the spirit.”

"First Light" by Thomas D. Mangelsen, Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery
“First Light” by Thomas D. Mangelsen, Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery

Images of Nature Gallery
THOMAS D. MANGELSEN
“I hope my work reminds people of what is beautiful and, if we take care of it, lasting in this world. The natural world somehow has this incredible ability to put things in perspective.”

"Leaping Penguin" by Hal Prewitt, Prewitt Gallery
“Leaping Penguin” by Hal Prewitt, Prewitt Gallery

Prewitt Gallery
HAL PREWITT
“Often efforts spent locating the ideal spot and special moment in time are in great contrast to racing and driving at 180 miles per hour. (Prewitt is a professional race car driver, so he actually drives that fast.) I love capturing nature’s elusive beauty and waiting for wildlife, the wind, clouds, and light to blend in a mystical way… When a great capture all comes together, it is like winning a race that likely will never be repeated.”

"Sparkle" by Susan Swartz, Susan Swartz Studios
“Sparkle” by Susan Swartz, Susan Swartz Studios

Susan Swartz Studios
SUSAN SWARTZ
“In painting, my goal is to elicit emotions. Using vivid colors, I aim to show my awe and appreciation of the natural world while simultaneously inviting people to reflect on their relationship with nature.”

ART BUILDS CONNECTIONS THROUGH THE POWER OF OBSERVATION
Renowned researcher, art historian, and educator Amy Herman, JD, MA, designed a groundbreaking professional development program using the power of looking at
art. Since 2007, she has worked with such powerhouse organizations as the New York City Police Department, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Department of Homeland Security and numerous other medical, educational and business institutions. Th rough her program, Th e Art of Perception, participants analyze works of art in a museum as they are guided to build crucial observation and communication
skills.

"Silver Falls Waterfall Moonlight", Willie Holdman, Willie Holdman Photographs
“Silver Falls Waterfall Moonlight”, Willie Holdman, Willie Holdman Photographs

Willie Holdman Photographs
WILLIE HOLDMAN
“Our modes of stimulation are sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Sight has always been the strongest stimulus for me. I choose to put myself in places at just the right moment to let the natural world show itself to me, where each small discovery is captured in time, to be forever embedded in one’s mind through the art of my photography. A visual feast is always waiting for whom will only look, not just at the obvious facade, but the deeper more meaningful message that lies underneath.”

"The Lazy Sunbathers" by Dean Kube, Meyer Gallery
“The Lazy Sunbathers” by Dean Kube, Meyer Gallery

Meyer Gallery
DEAN KUBE
“By channeling and capturing the experiential humanness of the people and places that have impacted my life — those honest, raw, uncertain, and intimately vulnerable moments — I discover more about myself and am able to connect with others in a way that I could never convey with words alone.”

Allen Lund, Lunds Fine Art Gallery
Allen Lund, Lunds Fine Art Gallery

Lunds Fine Art Gallery
ALLEN LUND
“Speaking from a landscape painter’s point of view, it’s important when a piece of art creates the ability to stop and see something that you would have never seen before…and to connect with it on a very emotional level.”