This is your brain on art: Vail Symposium presents discussion into the experience of art |

This is your brain on art: Vail Symposium presents discussion into the experience of art

Daily staff report
The Vail Symposium presents Art: a Matter of Mind on Wednesday, Aug. 15. The program will explore the neural processes that underlie human perception and experience with an art collector, a curator and a scientist.
Andy Moon Wilson | Special to the Daily

If you go …

What: Vail Symposium presents Art, a Matter of Mind.

When: Wednesday, Aug. 15. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m. Exhibit of work from the JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey Collection will be open immediately following the presentation.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards.

Cost: Tickets are $25 prior to 2 p.m. on the day of the program; tickets are $35 after 2 p.m. and at the door.

More information: Visit for more details and to purchase tickets.

VAIL — Remember the scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when the trio visits the Art Institute of Chicago and Cameron becomes entranced by Suerat’s pointillism masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”?

What was going on, not only in his psyche, but also in his brain? We interact with art in a variety of ways; many times we might not even understand our brain’s response.

On Wednesday, Aug. 15, at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, the Vail Symposium presents a program that will explore the neural processes that underlie human perception and experience with an art collector, a curator and a scientist.

“We’re excited to present this fascinating discussion on not only visual understanding, but the connection between art and our brains,” said Kris Sabel, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “With this diverse panel of experts and the portion of the outstanding collection from JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey that will be on display at CMC, we’re looking forward to a fascinating and educational interactive program.”

Interactive Discussion

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The Vail Symposium will present art collector JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey, curator Mardee Goff and neuroscientist Flux on an intimate journey into the mind of the observer to answer the question: “How, in our culture of increasing distraction, might we truly connect with the beauty around us?”

In an interactive discussion of the neural processes that underlie human perception and experience, paralleled by a look into the value systems that have been instilled by the art world over time, the audience goes on a tour from simple visual understanding to the generation of a complex human connection.

Focusing on a selection of works on paper from the collection of JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey as a basis for exploring what drives our individual connections to art, the conversation will encourage and challenge us to really look at a work of art with the hope of bringing awareness to how and why we connect to art.

About the speakers

The JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey Collection is a significant collection of contemporary works on paper with more than 400 international, early to mid-career contemporary artists represented in the collection. While the collection initially focused on abstract works, over time it has been extended to challenge traditional notions of drawing.

Flux is graduate student researcher at CU Boulder with a decade’s worth of research in fields spanning from molecular biology to human behavior. While currently working on a joint Ph.D. in clinical psychology and neuroscience, his research at CU centers around resiliency, specifically working to identify behaviors and biomarkers that facilitate our ability to overcome stress and bolster mental health.

Mardee Goff is an independent curator based in Denver. Prior to working independently, Goff was curator of Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and was responsible for mounting more than 30 exhibitions of local and international artists including “Walk the Distance and Slow Down: Selections from the Collection of JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey” and the critically acclaimed exhibitions “Substrate” (2015), which featured site-responsive installations that utilized the museum’s floors; “Defaced” (2014-2015), the first group exhibition of Romanian figurative painters in the U.S.; and the year-long project and publication “The Flood Project: Rising Above & Restoring Boulder Through Art” (2013-2014).

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