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Art on the Brain is a multi-visit program that leverages the unique qualities of contemporary art to create gallery-based rehabilitation for individuals who are recuperating from brain/mind injuries. Contemporary artists use a range of sensory devices to provoke perceptual, emotional, and cognitive responses in viewers. Symbolism, metaphor, pop culture references, and a variety of other subtle communication devices are used to create a primarily visual language that entices visitors to translate and make meaning of the sometimes ambiguous clues before them. Art on the Brain participants are guided through the course of deep looking and interpretation using an organic, question-based process. This group-based experience begins very simply with the question, “What do you see?” As responses are given, subsequent questions are asked and activities are directed to guide participants through the critical thinking process in a very visible and mindful way. The conversation and activities can only be as challenging as the ability of the group and the process is collaborative, so a wide range of strengths and challenges are welcome.
Each individual recuperating from injury is strongly encouraged to participate in the program alongside a good friend or loved one. Contemporary art, and the open ended (and sometimes unanswerable) questions that it inspires, levels the playing field and blurs the ability line between the “injured” and “non-injured” participants, providing a challenging and fun social experience for everyone. Because there is not necessarily a perfectly correct answer in interpreting the art, in the gallery space, more than most other learning environments, we can simply enjoy the group thinking process without being triggered by a fear of failure. The galleries, as framed by the design of Art on the Brain, provide a stimulus-rich container for social and cognitive play and growth. This program was conceived, designed, and is facilitated by Tracie McCambridge, educator for Docent and Teacher Programs at the Wexner Center for the Arts. For more information, contact Tracie at firstname.lastname@example.org.