Take an Art Break Podcast

What happens to your brain on art?




What happens to your brain on art?

Transcript for Take an Art Break Podcast Episode

Lisa (00:02):

All right. Welcome to Art is Moving. This is Lisa Lauren. So excited about these two ladies here today. It’s Susan and Ivy, and if you could please introduce yourself and then we’ll start the beautiful conversation.

Susan (00:14):

Well, thank you for having us. My name’s Susan Magsamen, and I’m the director of the International Arts and Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University, and also the co-director of the Neuro Arts Blueprint.

Ivy (00:25):

And, hi, I’m Ivy Ross. I’m currently the vice president of Design for the hardware products at Google, but I have been an am an artist, received an NEA grant, and I’ve been involved in art and making my whole life.

Lauren (00:41):

Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks for being here. As everyone knows it’s listening we always start our conversations off with a question. And the question we have for the two of you today is what happens to your brain on art?

Susan (00:57):

Well, I, I’m gonna start by saying everything everywhere, all at once. <Laugh>

Lisa (01:03):

<Laugh>. I love it.

Lauren (01:06):

Oh man, what a splendid movie too. Woo. I could talk about that one. You do. I’ve watched

Susan (01:10):

Times and I think I need to watch it. Another five. It’s just, it’s really, it’s really layered. Right. And, and I think that’s a really great metaphor for your brain own art. You know, our brains are so complicated and so dynamic. And you know what, Ivy and I have found out that, you know, we’re really truly wired for art. Over the last 20 years, advances in technology have really allowed us to get inside our heads and to really start to understand kind of what is happening. And because the, the, we bring the world in through our senses, this capacity for taste and smell and touch is so extraordinary. And those sensorial experiences really trigger so many neurotransmitters and hormones that induce what’s called neuroplasticity. So, you know, at the basic level, neuroplasticity is really the process of sculpting neuronal connections at a synaptic level.

Susan (02:09):

So you’re born with a hundred billion neurons. Each of us have quadrillion synapse synaptic connections in our brains, and those synaptic connections create endless circuits and neuro pathways. So you think about it this way, everything that you do, your emotions, your memories, your physical movements all come down to the way that these circuits connect and grow. And what we have seen in the research over the last 20 years is that the arts and aesthetic experiences are exceptional at creating these amazing synaptic connections that are highly salient, meaning they matter to you. And they really lay the groundwork for health and wellbeing and learning and community building and all these things that we do all the time in our lives.

Ivy (02:55):

And, you know, there’s what your brain is doing. And then there’s also the fact that the arts allow you to creatively express something. And we have found that we, it’s super important cuz we all have microtraumas every day. And unfortunately some people have huge traumas. But, you know, I think we’ve been taught to kind of repress our feelings and not express ourselves. And by the way, when we say the arts, we are talking about a wide range of, you know, pa visual arts, making, singing, dancing, architecture. It’s quite a range of arts. But there’s a great quote we have in the book from Julie Bolty Taylor that says, we think that we’re thinking beings that have learned how to feel, but we’re actually feeling beings that have learned how to think. And when you think about that, it turns the whole thing upside down. As Susan said, we are wired for art. We are, we are feeling beings first. And then our brain developed to think. And I just don’t think that we understand that enough. Cuz if we did, we would understand how important it is to be expressing our feelings. And I think the arts is such a perfect way to express.

Lisa (04:10):

I love that. So the curious, how did you both get into this field? What was the, you know, a moment in time that you’re like, I really wanna divulge this to the world that artists for our wellbeing?

Susan (04:24):

You know, it’s funny in hindsight, I think the, your rear view mirror, you kind of can see where you came from. And this has been a really great question that people have asked us, and it’s kind of a gift to think about. You know, I’ve always been a very curious person and I’ve always just wanted to understand why things were working the way they were. And I’ve also always loved nature, but when I was, I’m a twin, and when I was 12 years old, my twin sister had a very tragic farming accident and she almost lost her leg. And she and I are like this, we’re super close. And when that happened she experienced physical and psychological trauma that was beyond words. She really couldn’t express how she felt, but she was really in, in deep emotional pain. And she started to draw and she started to paint and she was able to begin to put in visual terms what she couldn’t find in words, and then was able to come back and ultimately put words to those images.

Susan (05:26):

Now we understand that neurologically now, but then it was just a gateway to some cognitive and emotional relief. And for me, I was able to know my sister’s deep emotional pain through what she made so that I think, you know, only now can I really see that that was another way of communication that was so natural, but really became another way for us to communicate and for me to understand that we don’t really, words are the least of what we do do to communicate and to express ourselves. And then for me, in my four sister’s crazy household, I’d go out into the woods to find balance and peace. And, and so I’m a, I’m a big nature lover and, and live on 20 acres on a stream. And so that’s continued to be a real through line for me and a gardener. And, you know, I love the smell of dirt and all that. And so so I think that’s how I came into it. And you know, Ivy’s got a really beautiful story too.

Ivy (06:25):

And by the way, before I tell my story, you know, nature Susan brings up nature. Nature is the most neuro aesthetic place there is because it has, if you think about it color, texture, temperature, sound it has all of those elements and we came from that place. And so we feel alive when all of these senses are ignited. But my story is my, my parents would get into, into some arguments and what I would do is close my door and I would start to beat my drum. I had a little drum and I would find some incredible relaxation and de-stressed by. And I realized my heart was getting in residence with that drum beat. And the, and I would call my little brother in when the fighting was going on and he would listen to that. And it turned out he grew up to wanna be a musician.

Ivy (07:25):

And it’s amazing. So the world of sound allowed us to kind of block out some things we didn’t wanna hear and really just get in resonance with the sound. And I also started making collages at a very early age in my room because I wanted to put my own world together, I think. And using the different materials allowed me to do that. And my father was a designer and a creative, but I really realized when Susan and I threw all of our conversations that my making and my sensing came from solutions to any, you know, emotional trauma. And then it became my profession in terms of being, you know, an artist. My work is in 12 museums and it’s not about that because you find out when your ego gets satisfied, it’s the journey. It’s not that end goal. And that was the gift I got from getting my work in museums is realizing life is not about this holy grail and obtainment and, you know, the book, it was really important for us to convey that it’s not about good art or bad art speaking, you know, it really is about the what happens when you’re in the act of either making or beholding.

Ivy (08:46):

And I think, yeah, unfortunately, so many people who have a lot to express and you could do it just for yourself, right? And, and, and that don’t do it because I’m not good at it, you know, concept, it’s

Susan (09:00):

Shameful. You’re shamed into not making right. And ultimately that

Lauren (09:03):

Yeah, I, that was gonna be my next question for you guys. So we encounter a lot of people. Cause I think as children expressing yourself through the arts, whether it be through drumming or painting or drawing or even honestly like screaming and jumping up and down or running around your backyard, that I think comes naturally as you were suggesting. And then there is something that happens in your tween ish age and it’s, I, and I think it has to do neurologically, right? You begin to see the world as a judger and you want to fit into those social norms. And then you spend <laugh> and then you tend to spend your adult life almost trying to get back to that place where you were as a kid or, or hopefully you do get back to that place because that’s how you work out all the stuff that you haven’t had a chance to work out because you denied it for so long.

Lauren (09:58):

So we’re kind of on a mission to be like, how do we stop that gap in time from happening mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I think your book is a great, great way of doing that, of, of explaining to people that like, here’s the evidence and like, don’t let that shame that you might feel from some random art, usually random art teacher or some comment you hear from an adult in your life stop you. Because it really is not about the product, it’s about the process and it’s about the experience. You know? What do you think? What could we do as individuals? What could we do as a society as parents, as teachers, you know?

Ivy (10:41):

Yeah. Well you’re absolutely right. And Sir Ken Robinson did this experiment. He went to schools and in kindergarten who’s an artist and everyone hand go up and then first grade, half the hands, second grade, hardly any. And by third grade, all the hands were down. And that’s really because of what you said, judgment. You know, a teacher comes around and says, oh no, that’s not the way you draw a tree. Right? And all of a sudden that stops that, you know, because of, of the, the judging. And, and it’s critical that we get the judgment out and some of these arts, you know, back into schools.

Susan (11:17):

Well, and this incentive systems are not set up for creativity yet. Interestingly, that’s what cre that’s what businesses are looking for, right? Is innovation. So you see all these art forms being taken out of school. Yet at the other end of the, the, the lifespan, which what you’re theoretically training people for, you’re asking ’em to have the skills that you’re not training them for. So the tension of opposites there doesn’t make any sense. But, but also I think you’re talking about middle school it’s even younger than that, right? It’s really, it’s really an elementary school where we start to feel like, oh, we have to like fill out the little bubbles on the test and we have to sit up straight, we have to conform to what’s, what’s going on. And there’s a lot of stuff around identity and collaboration and community that gets lost too. So our ability to do this, to be able to understand how each of us are communicating, expressing ourselves also gets lost. Which that’s another thing that’s really hard to make up later on. And then with kids with neurodiversity, you know, we know that kids learn best through making, through multi-sensory experiences, and they get taken out of the schools also. So that really makes a huge difference in the capacity to be able to learn and grow and change.

Lisa (12:33):

And the why, why, I mean, we kinda all know, but can you explain from the book the why why did this happen in our society? You know, at some point it, it was integrated in our society and then it just got,

Ivy (12:47):

Yeah. You know, we interviewed some indigenous tribes and, and in those times there was no word for art because it was the culture. It was storytelling, singing, dancing, drawing it. You didn’t need a word for it because it was life and then that’s it. Yeah. <laugh>, it just was. And then I think, you know, industrial revolution, we, we started optimizing for productivity and we pushed all the arts aside and thinking that would make us a happy and healthy society, and we’re not. And so, right. You know, we’re, we’re, what we wanna look at is you know, sometimes you have to go a little backwards and the answer is there, you know, like we said is, Susan and I looked into this. We were wired, we we’re designed for the arts. And so we’ve, we’ve, you know, got to bring it back in, in a healthy diet. Just like we exercise, we now know science has got drilled in our head. We have to exercise 20 minutes a day, we have to sleep eight hours. And we need to do some form of art 20 minutes a day. You know, whether it’s the making or engaging in, if we’re gonna live longer and happier

Susan (13:56):

And we’ve left so much on the table, right. You know, if you’re not bringing all of that capa human capacity forward, you know, your question about why one other aspect of that is in the seventies when the Russians came out with Sputnik, that is when STEM was born, it was we can’t play anymore. We can’t mess around anymore. If we’re gonna keep up in the global race, it’s all business, right? And so I think for a lot of the right reasons, we made the wrong decisions. And so we went off course and now we’re so off course and, you know, in California Proposition 28 is now bringing some of the arts back into school, and it’s not bringing them back in for enrichment or, you know, because it’s sort of a high thing, highest society thing to do. Or even because you might become an artist when you grow up.

Susan (14:45):

It’s more so from a social and emotional connection and for helping to, with self-regulation and for executive function and all those things that we’re wired for that, what the arts teach us, even if we aren’t quote unquote good at it. So and Ivy mentioned being a maker, there’s also great benefit in being a beholder and being able to listen to music and view art and, and use virtual reality and, and go to theater and, you know, see things happening in, in nature. So beholding is the other side of making, it’s the other, it’s the other side of the coin that’s worth lifting up to.

Ivy (15:22):

Yeah. In fact, doctors prescribing in, in Canada and London, England for patients to go to museums literally writing a prescription because, you know, for our brain to make these new connections, as Susan said, we need to be confronted with new things, see new things and we tend to get comfortable and not do that.

Lauren (15:44):

Yeah. I I think that’s a actually a really good point. Okay. So I wanna say one thing in terms of like schooling and how we enter art and schooling, and we tend to enter it from a space of lessons, right? Just because of classroom management and like proving to your particular state, at least in the United States, that you’re fulfilling the 2.1 ec thing that they’re telling you to do. And I’m sort of on a mission. I have two elementary school kids and a preschool child, and I’m trying to get people to understand that my notion of taking an art break. And so I’m, I’m trying to find the right language and you, you hit on it, Susan. It’s this idea of like, that it’s, you can, you can be involved in art and so many different ways mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you can watch a movie and you can talk about that movie. And that is an art experience. You know, you can listen to a song and try to try to piece out how many different instruments are in that song. You can scribble on a piece of paper and then color it. And that is art. And I guess I wish there was more of that in the school system. And I think I don’t, I don’t know. Is it because it’s feels cattywampus? Does it feel unorganized? Do we need to introduce it in an organized way? You know,

Susan (17:06):

God, I hope not. You know, I think, I think we’ve, yeah, we, you know, I used to, I, I started a company called Curiosity Kits, which were hands-on learning materials for kids in art sciences and world cultures. And we used to call them glitter and non glitter moms. Y the non glitter moms were like, you know, you know, no, no glitter moms were like, let’s get messy. Let’s get in this. And those kids were joyful, happy, learned more were really sort of engaged because it was okay to be messy. And I think sometimes somehow we’ve homogenized learning also, like it has to be compartmentalized. And you know, you just mentioned some really great things, scribbling. I think this is where the science is really our friend, our, the science is telling us scribbling and doodling and coloring are about focus, attention lowering cortisol.

Susan (17:54):

Turns out that doodler have better memory recall than non doodler. That’s pretty cool. So, you know, we know a lot more about why these experiences that we call art actually are good for us neurobiologically psychologically and from a behavioral change point of view. And so to be able to start to use those in service of learning, in service of wellbeing, and give teachers back the joy of teaching, the joy of exchange. Like, you know, I teach at Hopkins and, and there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a group of people who are totally disengaged. It’s the loneliest experience ever. But when you put ’em in a circle and you ask ’em who they are and what they do, and you say, help me understand this, it’s beautiful. And, and everybody leaves feeling seen, engaged, and has taken something away. So, you know, I think everything, everything is an art right? In in the sense of, you know, how do you come at teaching, teach the art of teaching you know, the art of, of, of engagement. And so I think we have to really reimagine what school looks like and not, you know, for years it’s been, the arts have been around the outside of school as opposed to being right in the middle of it and making it messy.

Lisa (19:09):

Yeah. I have a, so this book is for the masses to really understand that art should be part of our lives. It’s not was it is life, art is life. So if you guys could break down from the book, what you learned is there’s making sensing and beholding, like, if you could give us some examples of that to open the door for people that kind of don’t know what you’re talking about. You know, cause Lauren and I, through our heartbreak mission, kind of like, you know, you could walk in nature and that’s amazing. Like you said, nature is like the epic greatest artist in the world. So if you could open the door to what is making, what is that, what is beholding to our audience that kind of doesn’t understand

Susan (19:53):

Well, would, would it be helpful maybe to maybe to step back and just explain to you how the book is organized? Yes. Cause I, cause what, early on we had a couple choices to make. We, we could make the book around art forms. So here’s music, here’s performing arts, digital arts, dance. Or we could do it around the moments in our lives where we need different things to help us feel whole and happy and healthy. And that’s how we organize the book. So there’s a book on wellbeing, there’s a book on mental health, there’s a book, there’s a, sorry, there’s a chapter on mental health. There’s a chapter on physical health chapter on learning flourishing, which is living, doing more than just coping and that community and then the arts of the future. What does it look like when this technology starts to really create hybrid experiences?

Susan (20:42):

So we, I’ve used a beautiful term yesterday that we wove together all the different arts as a maker, end of beholder, end a sensor to be able to meet those moments in our lives where those things show up and can be very helpful for us. So I’ll just give you one example and then give it to Ivy. In the trauma and, and mental health chapter, we talk to first responders who are using the arts to address P T S D and trauma because they’re first responders and they’re, they’re experiencing these incredible situations and they need to defrag, they need to get this stuff in them out. So some of them are painting, other people are using visual arts. And I you tell about Judy, cuz this is a beautiful story.

Ivy (21:29):

Oh, someone we know that we interviewed was actually, she wasn’t even a painter, she was an English major and she had had some trauma in her lineage. And she realized because she was starting to date Hopi Indian. And she said to her Hopi Indian friend, you know, in the old days you guys used to, and I think he wanted to learn how to paint. And she said, well just start to paint and then wash over it with white, just like they did in the caves. Like no connection to what you put out, like no attachment. And you’ll be amazed, you know, with the no judgment, just put it out. And then they used to cover over it and then they would tell another story and then tell another story. And so we have a picture of this in the book in the Centerfold.

Ivy (22:22):

She ended up saying, wait a minute, I’m gonna do that for myself. And she ended up doing something called the continuous painting where she would literally, and they’re absolutely beautiful and thank God she photographed before she painted over it, just for her own documentation to tell her own story back to herself, these images. But she would put it on the canvas and then she’d paint over white and then the next day she’d do something else and then like a figure would start to emerge and then she’d paint over it and then something el all like her, her own life story and trauma would start to come out in this very abstract way. And it was incredibly healing for her. So at the end of the day, she ended up with what she calls, there’s a white, the white continuous painting, the red and the black. Cuz in each of them she ended up with it’s all black or all white or all red, cuz that’s the color she used in between. But you walk up to that painting and all it is now is very thick, gooey cuz there’s layers of her story, you know, of 40 different paintings underneath. And you could feel the energy just coming off of that pure white canvas because that is the way that she brought out her story and reflected it back to herself.

Susan (23:37):

And she’s the maker. We’re the beholder and there’s a sensorial experience through the whole thing. So it all gets woven together.

Ivy (23:44):


Lauren (23:44):

Yeah. I love that. That’s awesome. Yeah. What what would you say to someone, like what could be a first step for someone who now is like, you know what, I totally believe you. I need to integrate art into my life. It is part of who I am and I, I know it’ll be better for me, but I’m, I’m a little afraid what could be a first? Cause there’s a lot of fear around art, right? So what could be a first step for someone to take?

Susan (24:16):

So I, should I go on?

Ivy (24:18):

There’s a lot, but go ahead. Pick up

Susan (24:20):

<Laugh>. Well, so I always say that I’m the poster child for this field because I can’t dance, can’t sing, can’t write, can’t dance. But I do it all the time, right? And so, you know, humm in the shower, sing to the radio. You mentioned doodle cooking is a great thing. Gardening. I’m a knitter. But I knit one stitch and I make, you know, a a million mile long scarf, right? <Laugh>, I’m also a collage. And I, I, I love to collage Ivy. Ivy was talking about how you create your own world by putting these things together. And you know, that’s not, you don’t have to be, it’s not high art, right? There’s a lot of those kinds of things that you can do really easily and instantly, and they have an immediate effect on you. That’s the other thing. It’s not like you have to wait for it to, to feel it dance, dance in your living room. You know, or did,

Ivy (25:11):

Didn’t we find out there was an adult coloring book? You know, if you’re scared to go outside the line, like get a coloring book and start to color you know, that, that would be terrific. And we also found out in writing, you know, because writing is also an art. But you could do something as simple as writing down a secret that you haven’t told anyone. The research shows that just by writing it, and it doesn’t matter whether you throw it away after you write it or burn it, the fact that you’ve actually brought it out and put it on a piece of paper changes how your brain, you know, thinks about that secret

Susan (25:49):

And you lighten your cognitive load instantly. So you know, you’re, and that makes sense, right? You’re lighten your load and I love that term. And so lightening your cognitive load means you have more capacity for other things. It’s not waiting you down,

Lauren (26:03):

Right? You’re like not turning and turning and turning that thing anymore. Or like

Lisa (26:07):

I say, baggage, right? So what I’m hearing is emotions have baggage, and if you don’t release them, get ’em out into the world, that’s when you kinda implode on

Susan (26:16):

Yourself, <laugh> and can make you sick. It can make you physically sick too, right? So the emotional physical connection is so important in some of this work as well. It’s a way to keep, keep you healthy.

Ivy (26:27):

Yeah. And we’ve learned that, you know, with neuroplasticity, as you have these new salent experiences, your brain prunes away some of those old connections. So that’s why over time you can get an entirely newly wired brain. You know, they and so some of these, these old connections that maybe kept you stuck in certain ways, if they get pruned out, you know, you’re a different person, but you have to have these new experiences, which means, you know, putting yourself in new experiences, whether it’s looking at new things as the beholder, or make or the maker trying, making something good or bad. These meaningful, these experiences will make new connections. And ultimately your brain will have to prune the old, because there won’t be enough room. Which is why we say if you do it each day for 20 minutes, you’re making new connections. And eventually the the old ones will have to, you know, go away. And if the old ones are salient, meaning truly emotionally memorable in a positive way, you know, they will stay with you. But the brain prunes those kind of has this hierarchy. Right, Susan?

Susan (27:31):

Yeah. And, and even with something like dementia or Alzheimer’s, you know, you, you, everybody knows that when you sing to someone with Alzheimer’s, often they’ll come back and you’re, it’s extraordinary. I I always say it’s the closest thing to magic. Well, the hippocampus is the part of the brain that short-term where short-term memories are held, and as they’re consolidated, they consolidate into other parts of the cerebral cortex. So what’s amazing about something like music for longevity is the brain will disseminate or distribute that information in different parts of the cortex. So when you’re singing, you’re, you’re not pulling from the hippocampus. The hippocampus is destroyed because of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s other parts of the brain that have duplicated and stored this knowledge. And that’s what’s we’re, we’re calling on in these kinds of singing experiences or autobiographical information. And so the brain has this complexity that it, especially with the arts, where you’re able to pull on information that might have been lost in one part of the brain, but is now being stored in not just one, but multiple parts of the brain. And I think that’s, that’s sort of extraordinary. That’s

Lisa (28:40):


Ivy (28:41):

Yeah. In fact, through Susan and I learned that my husband and I should exchange our favorite playlist of our favorite songs. So God forbid we go into any of these states, you know, to have our loved one play that playlist will get us out of love. That

Lauren (28:57):

I think that’s an incredible idea. And so, I mean, it’s, that’s very endearing. I like that. I like that idea.

Lisa (29:04):

One question that come up for me. You were talking about community. We really haven’t hit on the community. How, what is this? Does it, is that the collective unconscious or what is the community aspect of this part of the book?

Susan (29:16):

Well, we were very fortunate to talk with Ieo Wilson, the evolutionary biologist, before he passed away. And, and he opens up the community chapter talking about the way that we are what he calls used social. So there’s only five or six species on the planet that we know of that are used social. These are one of them, answer another. Humans are another. What it means is that we are built to take care of one another, not to be selfish or individualistic, even though it might seem like sometimes that’s true. In fact, that’s how we’re wired. So all of these different arts and ex ways of expressing ourselves or thinking about storytelling around the campfire, around dancing cave paintings that are messages to each other are all about our survival as a species, not about our individual survival. So, you know, Ivy mentioned this, that there wasn’t a word for art because communities lived in that life of making and doing and creating and beholding because that’s how the culture stayed strong rituals, traditions are all about culture and also generationally moving that information forward.

Susan (30:29):

So when you think about you know, bring that to today, how can community be fostered and built? And how can communities that have been decimated through racism and through under-resourced communities, how can they come back? And it’s really through art. We talk about this in the book that art creates culture. Culture creates community, and community creates humanity. So we, we talked, we lifted up a a group in, in Chicago called the Sweetwater Foundation. And Emmanuel Pratt is the person that sort of initiated that work where he bought some acreage, burnt out acreage in, on the south side of Chicago, and with the community co-created first community gardens, and then a place for coming together and eating together. And it turns out scientifically that when you eat together, when youve together, you’re less combative, you’re less judgmental, and you’re more likely to get along, which I think is pretty extraordinary.

Susan (31:28):

So, you know, shout out for the family dinner table. <Laugh> <laugh>. But, but also, but also that they then built a, a performance pavilion where people come together all different ages, intergenerationally, to share knowledge to, to learn from each other. So co-learning, peer learning, then they build a wood shop and a workshop where they make art, they make furniture, they do all kinds of things together. Now they’re building housing. And so this is a community that’s not getting a lot of federal or state money, but are building a community together. And they’ve now connected with other communities around the world that are learning from each other about how to co-create community and build strong community in some of the worst areas that have been really redlined and cut off and isolated by design and are now coming back and, and thriving. And it’s, it’s really beautiful work.

Ivy (32:21):

And you think about, you know, and, and women who would have quilting bees together mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and now we’re, we’re hearing about, you know, there’s a lot of stress in colleges and especially with young women and they’re creating knitting circles. They’re just getting together and starting to knit together, together. And there’s something about that action of, it’s almost, you’re very present. I think, you know, when you have to make things, you have to be present. So you’re sitting in a circle and you’re each knitting your own thing, but you’re present to the moment and talking. And we also learned, actually, you know, I think it was David Byrne who was talking about dancing and you think about square dancing in the town hall and in the old days, you know, there was, the community would come together and dance together. And there’s something about when you get in step together, it, it bonds people. And so a lot of things that we, you know, we take for granted and they just were the way things were. There’s, there’s science in why we haven’t articulated, but why we were drawn to be doing those things together. And because they did bond us on an unconscious collective level

Susan (33:32):

And you know, and, and, and, and all those different neurotransmitters were released, right? I mean that’s, that’s what we’re seeing now.

Ivy (33:39):

Yeah. Release together. I mean, it’s the same thing when you go listen to a concert of music together, you feel at one with the audience, cuz you’re all in sync experiencing that, you know, pulsating with your senses are all alive together at the same time.

Susan (33:54):

You know, you’re making me remember my grandmother lost a daughter to leukemia when she was 12 years old and she started knitting in the hospital and she knitted her whole life. She be, we, we call it the granny slipper club. Ivy has repair. She, she, she, she knitted slippers, her whole everything. But, but it was her way of keeping her life together. She kept her life together. She never dropped a stitch because it, it, she couldn’t, you know, and it was her, her life was f falling apart and she started to knit it back together and she, she did it. She, she, you know, she looked at, at 99, so she, she knitted for over 75 years, which, you know, and think about that. And the other point I wanted to make is that we are in so many communities all the time. We’re not just in one community.

Susan (34:41):

So even when we say, you know, this book is for the masses, that could be Alzheimer’s patients, it could be families that have children with autism, it could be people who are experiencing mental health. It could be people that just wanna flourish and grow, but we come in and out of communities in a day all the time, right? So how do those communities bond and come together in synchronicity like Ivy’s talking about, but also in these common ways of making something or beholding something together. And just the awareness of that lifting up our knowing that that’s happening, being more aware of our aesthetic mindset is something that we think makes us all feel more alive. And that’s what I think we’re all wanting too, is to feel more and to feel more connected to ourselves and to each other. Mm-Hmm.

Lauren (35:30):

<Affirmative>. Yeah. Wow. Well thank you for taking all the time to make that book <laugh>. Yeah. But doing all the research and yeah, it’s amazing. And thank you for taking the time today to talk to us about it. I’m really excited to read it and I think it’s a game changer. So you know, I, you know, it it, it o obviously helps us cause we’ve been chatting about it for a really long time and it’s nice to be able to be like, check this out, you know, for more scientific evidence to the, to the point that we’re trying to make. So yeah,

Ivy (36:08):

We’ll know, we’ll always succeed if it becomes a textbook right for everyone. Oh. Oh.

Lauren (36:12):

Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yeah. Yes. I would love to take a class on that. Like what happens to your art on brain, you know, in your brain on art. Yeah. Yeah.

Ivy (36:21):

Well also I wanna thank you for all the work that you two have done. Cause I heard your story and again, just like this was a labor of love for us. You know, the fact that you came together with a knowingness and that there were other people out there you need to connect with and then have stuck with it. And sometime the world catches up with you. So thank you for hanging in there and doing that work. It’s really important.

Lisa (36:45):

Thank you. Thank you. How can people get the book and give, you know, what’s your website and how can they get ahold of you and learn more?

Ivy (36:52):

Yeah, sure. So it is, it launches on March 21st. We’re super excited. Susan and I are gonna be like rock and roll stars going, you know, a seven city tour in 10 days. Speaking of places like the Aspen Institute, the Baltimore Museum of Art, quite a range of, of institutions and places. But it launches March 21st, but it is available for pre-order, you know, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, a lot of indie

Susan (37:18):

Bookstores. Yeah.

Ivy (37:18):

In bookstores as well. Our site will be up by the end of next week. It will be called, you know, your Brain on art.com. We do have an Instagram feed that’s up now which is called Your Brain on Art book because your brain on art, someone took it. But your brain, your brain starts

Lisa (37:38):

It back,

Ivy (37:39):


Lauren (37:42):


Ivy (37:42):

Then on our, on our website there is a form if you wanna reach out and contact us. Yeah. And so it’s called Your Brain On Art, how the Arts Transform Us. And it’s coming out by Random House

Susan (37:56):

And one of the, you realized just we would never be able to tell all the amazing stories that are out there and even all the great science that’s coming out. So part of the work that we’re doing with the website and social media is to lift up projects just like yours. So we’re really excited and send us what people are doing cuz we really wanna hear and we wanna see how people are using the arts in their lives and so many different ways we think that’s gonna be amazing to share with the world.

Ivy (38:23):

That’s called social science, right? Susan? Social

Lauren (38:25):

Science <laugh>, yes. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much.

Ivy (38:29):

You’re welcome.

Lisa (38:31):

Take care. Amazing conversation. Thank you.