Friday, May 14, 2010

Neural Pathways

It's been a VERY long time since I posted any new work. It's not that I haven't accomplished anything it's just that I'm a real slacker about photographing my work and then taking the time to load the pics and post on my blog.

So here is the piece I did for the yearly project in the needle arts guild that I'm in. The theme was 'Pathways'. I knew about this since September of last year when I joined the guild but you know me-- queen of the procrastinators, so I didn't even start the project until about 2 wks before it was due, which was our April meeting.

I thought long and hard about pathways and considered so many different options.
Pathways can mean so many things. My life has certainly taken me down MANY different paths through the years and I contemplated what I could design for the art quilt that I wanted to create.

It just so happened that the first week in March I was on the phone with a dear old friend and we were discussing her father who is beginning to have some dementia. We both agreed that becoming extremely forgetful was a path we didn't want to go down. But it seems like it's inevitable with the magnitude of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer's nowadays.

March 18 was also the anniversary of my mother passing away. It has been 3 years and her diagnosis was Alzheimer's. This got me thinking about pathways and how I could translate that into art. Then my daughter came home from college and was talking about her physiology class. They just happened to have finished studying about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

So all of these little things sent me to the computer to search for images of neural pathways. As I searched for neurons and neural pathways I decided to make it even more meaningful-so I searched for neural pathways of someone with Alzheimer's. Amazingly, there were quite a few images both of the neurofibrillary tangles & plaques as well as images of brain scans.

I decided on a close-up of the neural pathways showing the tangled webs of neurons along with the plaques. These tangles and plaques are the reason for memory loss and decreased brain function in Alzheimer's patients. As the disease progresses areas of the brain start to shrink. This has started me on a quest to do a series of art quilts related to the brain of Alzheimer's. 

Here's a close-up of my project.

Another shot : The tangles are matted up dyed cheesecloth sewn down and the plaques on the mass of tangles is pink angelina fibers.

And here's the full art quilt. The background is commercial fabric that I overdyed to get some variations of grays. I used metallic variegated thread for some of the little neural fibriles.

I have several projects in various stages. Hopefully I will get them photographed and posted before another month goes by.
Although my daughter comes home from college tomorrow for what will probably be her last full summer with us, so I may be playing a lot of hookie from my studio.
live your life creatively~


tmstewart said...

I love that piece! The pictures don't do it justice.

Cathy Spivey Mendola said...

Thanks Tracy! I agree I like it much better in person. One day I'm going to learn how to take professional photos.

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