February 8, 2015

Innovation series

Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston
Janet Biggs, Breathing Without Air (production still), 2014. Single-channel, high-definition video with sound, approximately 7 minutes. Courtesy of the artist, CONNERSMITH, and Galerie Analix Forever.

Blaffer Art Museum, in partnership with more than a dozen University of Houston departments and local institutions, is proud to present the Blaffer Art Museum Innovation series, the most ambitious lineup of public programs Blaffer has ever organized around a single exhibition. Designed to amplify the Blaffer exhibition Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary learning, the series of free lectures, presentations, and interactive programs highlights collaborations across the UH community and beyond.

Organized by independent curator Janet Phelps, Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown is inspired in part by the artist’s memories of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on family members. Combining video, sound and objects, the multidimensional exhibition draws on heroic stories of public figures coping with the disease and research conducted with neurologists and geoscientists to raise fundamental questions about how we become—and lose our sense of—who we are.

“In both the arts and the sciences, if we do our jobs well, it never leads to a final answer—always to more questions,” says Biggs, who collaborated with UH’s Department of Biology and Biochemistry, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Moores School of Music Concert Chorale to realize the exhibition.

The Blaffer Art Museum Innovation series’ similarly diverse list of participating UH and off-campus collaborators builds upon Blaffer’s unique position as an agile, experimental European-style kunsthalle in the heart of a major American research university campus with ties to the Texas Medical Center—the world’s largest medical complex and a leader in cross-institutional collaboration.

Blaffer’s UH partners include the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ Creative Writing Program, Moores School of Music, School of Theater and Dance, School of Art, Department of Health and Human Performance, Department of Educational Psychology, Department of Philosophy and Department of History; the Cullen College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering; the College of Natural Science & Mathematics’ Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Department of Computer Science and Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; the Honors College; the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences; the University Law Center; and the Division of Research, University of Houston System.

Additional series partners include Houston Methodist Hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Nantz National Alzheimer Center, and Research Institute; Baylor College of Medicine’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center; and the Alzheimer’s Association—Houston and Southeast Texas.


Highlights include:

February 19
Lecture by Dr. Lisa Genova, neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice; Q&A led by Dr. Joseph Masdeu, medical director of Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Hospital. (Arrangements for the appearance of Lisa Genova made through Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau, New York.)

February 25
“Your Brain on Art: Understanding the Brain in Creative Action and Context” by Dr. Jose L. “Pepe” Contreras-Vidal; Hugh Roy; and Lillie Cranz Cullen, Distinguished Professor, UH Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

February 27
Becky Valls, UH associate professor of dance, leads a demonstration with dancers wearing electroencephalography (EEG) caps that alter the dance environment.

March 10
“The Serious Search for an Anti-Aging Pill” with Dr. Dan O’Connor, UH associate professor of health and human performance; Dr. Donald Ingram, professor of nutritional neuroscience and aging, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU System; and Dr. Felipe Sierra, director, Division of Aging Biology, National Institute on Aging.

The full schedule is availablehere.


Educational outreach programs for Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown are made possible by Dorothy C. Sumner, the Kristin Saleri Art Foundation, Quantum Reservoir Impact and the UH Student Fees Advisory Committee.

Press contact: Devon Britt-Darby, T +1 713 743 9528 / [email protected]

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