bioephemera

Greg Dunn’s golden neurons

i-7294d55cb84fccfecd0dc603b3f8eb72-goldcortex.jpg
Gold Cortex
16 x 20, 2010
Greg Dunn

I used to have a beautiful gold Japanese folding screen, which was purchased by my great-grandmother’s feisty sister on a trip in the 1920s. I loved the gold patina and the surprisingly modern impact it had on my wall. At the moment, it’s loaned to a friend, but looking at Greg Dunn’s artwork, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the best aspects of my screen: the gold leaf, crisp black patterns, and way that the scene seemed half natural, half abstract.

The biggest twist Greg, a 6th year graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, places on the screenpainting tradition? He paints neurons, as well as trees and branches. Often it’s hard to tell Greg’s neurons from other natural features: his cortical neurons look like delicate spring branches, and his retinal neurons are reminiscent of rosehips. At a first glance, could you tell if his Hippocampus, below, was a slice of stained brain or a quarter of a dandelion?

i-12f24993190f4112c9edfc37689eaa26-hippocampusdunn-thumb-342x412-68715.jpg

Hippocampus (detail)
18 x 24, 2008
Greg Dunn

The UCSD Neuroscience department commissioned a series of Greg’s paintings depicting hippocampus, retina, cortex, and Purkinje neurons. The collection is just stunning, and although you can’t purchase the originals, you can get large (16×16) prints for just over $120. I want!

i-0a351b8d1a9ba2e6f32b1236888fc2d9-ucsd_hippocampus_medium-thumb-375x300-68751.jpg

UCSD Hippocampus II
42 x 42, 2010
Greg Dunn

Greg, a self-taught artist, will finish his PhD soon; he plans to make art an integral part of his career. I wish him much well-deserved success (and hope he doesn’t run out of prints before I can buy mine.) Note that he will consider commissions, so if you want to get a particular kind of neuron as a unique gift for a researcher, neurologist, or graduate student, you should contact him and ask.

More: buy prints of Greg Dunn’s neuron paintings
A review of Dunn’s exhibition “Neurons and Nature”