Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist’s Journey through Amnesia
January 26, 2012 – June 3, 2012
Jack Morton Exhibits, PNC Wealth Management, Princeton Brain & Spine Care, Princeton Magazine, and Rita Allen Foundation
Morven Museum & Garden hosted Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist’s Journey through Amnesia, an exhibition on loan from The Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore, MD.
The Walters partnered with the Cognitive Science Department of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Science at Johns Hopkins University to present a focus show exploring the impact of severe brain damage on the life and creativity of an artist.
The show tells the story of Lonni Sue Johnson, a successful artist and Princeton native, who drew for “The New Yorker” and “The New York Times”. She suffered severe amnesia resulting from an attack of encephalitis in late 2007. The illness caused substantial brain damage, resulting in the complete loss of artistic productivity. Through intensive art therapy led by her mother Margaret Kennard Johnson (also an accomplished artist), Johnson began to produce a portfolio of “recovery art.” Her art provides unique insight into the devastating effects of amnesia, as well as the complementary roles played by language and memory in her artistic expression. Johnson’s case gives researchers a rare opportunity to contribute to the scientific understanding of brain function and art, and to apply that understanding to an appreciation of the synergies between art and science.
Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist’s Journey through Amnesia was organized by the Walters Art Museum in partnership with the Cognitive Science Department of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University. The exhibition received generous support from the Johns Hopkins University Brain Science Institute, and the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. We gratefully acknowledge Aline Marie Johnson’s role in helping us tell Lonni Sue’s story.