Sunday, April 27, 2014

A STROKE OF INSIGHT

 Part 1 of a three part series

OUR ART IS AFFECTED BY OUR PERCEPTIONS

OUR PERCEPTIONS ARE DETERMINED BY OUR BRAIN FUNCTION

AND OUR BRAINS FUNCTION IS DETERMINED BY ITS STRUCTURE, ITS HEALTH, AND ITS INJURIES


DAVID HOCKNEY AND CHUCK CLOSE


David Hockney, British           from Google




Chuck Close, American        from google














are two artist who have continued to produce art after having    severe disabilities.  David Hockney had a stroke and Chuck Close suffered seizures that paralyzed him from the waist down.  Brain research and function is fascinating, especially if one is an artist.  A recent article in the Guardian about David Hockney  renewed my interest in this area.

THE TERM A STOKE OF INSIGHT COMES FROM A BOOK 
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor.

Click on the arrow in the center of the screen below to watch
video of Jill Bolte Tayor speaking brain function.




The book was written by a Jill Bolte Taylor who specialized in research of neurological effects of people who experienced strokes.  Then she had a stroke of her own.  After her recovery she wrote a book called, My Stroke of Insight. She talked about how her brain functioned differently after the stroke. Her perceptions were different, her sensations were different, and her ability to stand stimulation. 
I became very interested in how the brain functions many, many years ago when I was teaching special education.  I taught, blind, deaf, autistic and severely mentally handicapped students.  In one way or another some senses or all were effected in this students.  I had children who were idiot savants and could do the most amazing things, like give the day of a chosen day into the future or past in seconds.  One part of their brain functioned at an abnormally high rate. I also had students who had a mental capacity of 3 months old or less, but in actual age may be up to 19 years old.  I wanted to know how the brain would still function at the lowest levels and how.  I found out some amazing things in those years.  I was surprised myself, at what choices a person of the most limited intelligence could make and how their personality was still very much intact.  I had one profoundly handicapped student who was about 17.  It took me and two aides to help her to manipulate her limbs to do art, but she consistently chose cool colors…green, blue, purple…month to month, year to year.  She had a decided preference for cool colors and she had a talent for art, even in the most basic form.


My Mother, Lela and me
Moving forward years later, I am as I neared the end of my art teaching career  my Mother had a  stroke.   My Mother had a massive hemorraghic stroke, which is like a  deep, bleeding in the center of the brain.  She could read not long after the stroke, but she was not able to attach meaning to the words. Strokes seem to run in our family, my Mother's Mother had a stroke and then my Mother.  My two cousins both have had several strokes.  It is devastating to see in someone you love, but it also made me thing deeply about the brain and what a person experiences, what they feel, what they sense and what they remember.  I think the scientist in my Mother would have been proud of that. I was taught to observe and analyze growing up.

David Hockney's(click for article)
article in the Guardian is one I wanted to share with you.

"I had had a very minor stroke that had kept me in London, and the first drawing afterwards took me two days to do (the days are a lot shorter in November). The stroke only manifested itself in my speech. I found I couldn't finish sentences, and although it came back after about a month I find now I talk a lot less."
"But it did not affect my drawing. I think it even made me concentrate more. I thought, well I'm OK so long as I can draw, I don't really need to say much any more; I thought, I've said enough already."

David Hockney's Yorkshire Spring Drawings after the stroke           from google image only for educational purposes

Chuck Close


Detail of portrait on right    from google

  















Chuck Closes work after accident
It is much more highly pixilated and abstracted.
I find it almost more interesting than his previous
work.

Though Chuck Close did not have a stroke, the seizures and paralysis no doubt have affected his thinking in many ways.  He has found ways to compensate and overcome his disabilities.  In some respects his art is more interesting now than ever.
Chuck Close after Spinal Collapse still a master!
from google image


"In 1988, Close again experienced the trauma of a severe health issue when he suffered the sudden rupture of a spinal artery. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Close was left almost entirely paralyzed. Eventually, after rounds of physical therapy, Close, who became permanently confined to a wheelchair, regained the partial use of his limbs.
Despite the physical limitations, Close pressed forward with his work. With a brush taped to his wrist, Close continued to paint, but in a style that was more abstract and less precise. His reputation and standing have not suffered in the least"  Quoted from Wikapedia
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