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In January 2018, I saw an article in The New York Times featuring the drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal. The drawings astounded me. They showed neurons of the brain, and they were absolutely beautiful. Cajal is reputed to be the father of neuroscience. He was also an artist.


Several months later, I was offered the opportunity to do a series of commissioned paintings about mental health and the brain—paintings that explored how the anatomy of the brain and mental health, emotions, illness, and states of mind are connected. The anatomy of the brain is like the “unseen story” that features prominently in all our lives.


I immediately thought back to Cajal’s drawings and knew I wanted to use them as my starting point. Above are the paintings I created, featuring images of young people in various states of mind, from pure innocent joy to distrust, melancholy, grief, anger. The backgrounds feature the Purkinje neurons, astrocytes of the hippocampus, pyramidal neurons of the cerebral cortex. Cajal called the pyramidal neuron “the noble and enigmatic cell of thought.”


Mental health issues plague so many of us every day. I hope these works will spark constructive conversation.

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