'Drawing and the Brain' symposium bringing scientists, artists to Columbus

  • March 9, 2016


COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Prominent scientists, architects and artists will gather at the "Drawing and the Brain" symposium next month to discuss the role of freehand drawing and the human imagination. 

The symposium, April 7 to 10 at the Indiana University Center for Art and Design in Columbus, is an interdisciplinary forum on the neurological implications of the physical act of drawing.

"Drawing and the Brain" is the product of collaboration between IU faculty members across different disciplines. T. Kelly Wilson, director of IU Center for Art and Design, and Marleen Newman, the associate director, both specialize in architecture and visual thinking. Caleb Weintraub is a fine artist and professor in studio art at IU Bloomington. Robert Goldstone, Karin James and Sharlene Newman are all professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington who study various aspects of cognition.

Sketching remains an integral part of artistic inquiry, yet in architecture it has been largely supplanted by digital media. Plans, elevations and sections are produced by computer, but the sketch remains a tool of invention and discovery that requires the tactile involvement of the human hand and its direct relationship to the brain.

The symposium will address questions of authorship and mark-making; drawing and the human voice; the relationship between hand and brain; and the potential for creating "digital/tactile" machines able to emulate touch and mark-making.

Without ignoring the role of technology, the meeting aims to redefine the role of drawing as a primary medium for creativity. Empirical discourse from artists and architects will be supported by data from scientists and engineers.

Other "Drawing and the Brain" participants include Michael A. Arbib, David Braly, Britt Brewer, Will Bruder, Judith E. Fan, Anthony Fisher, Kenneth D. Forbus, Gabriela Goldschmidt, William R. Gwin, Frank Harmon, Patricia Heyda, David Kirsh, Carl Lostritto, Thomas Lyon Mills, Juhong Park, Jennifer Riley, Barbara Tversky and Frank Wilson, M.D.

The chosen participants, through their scholarship and creative activity, link drawing and the brain across the disciplines of art, architecture, design, education, computer science, engineering, neuroscience, medicine, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and product design. As a group, their expertise is broadly interdisciplinary; their individual work points to the importance of the fundamental relationship between "the drawing hand and the creative brain in the process of invention."

The symposium will begin with a reception and introduction to the coinciding exhibition, "Drawing Upon Drawing," by curator Jennifer Riley. The reception will begin at 5 p.m. April 7, and Riley's gallery talk will begin at 6 p.m.

The exhibition features eight acclaimed practitioners of drawing who approach problems of representation, imagination, modeling, rendering and expression in remarkable and diverse ways.

All of the exhibitors are symposium participants who were selected to support specific topics addressed. Their works draw upon art, architecture, urbanism, history, psychology, myth and cultural lore.

In her gallery talk, Riley will provide an interpretation of the diverse types of drawing on view, illuminating the various processes involved in their making. The exhibition continues through May 27.

The "Drawing and the Brain" symposium and the corresponding exhibition "Drawing Upon Drawing" have been made possible through the support of the School of Art and Design; The College Arts and Humanities Institute and the Ostrom Grants Program in the College of Arts and Sciences; New Frontiers in Arts and Humanities; and the Center for Art and Design in Columbus, all at Indiana University.

IU Center for Art and Design in Columbus opened in 2011 as part of the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design at IU Bloomington. In July 2016, the department will formally come together with the fine arts studio programs in the new School of Art and Design. The Center for Art and Design is anticipated to have a major role in the new school.

For further information and a schedule of events, visit or contact Marla Roddy at IU Center for Art and Design in Columbus is accessible to people with disabilities. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. 

Related Links

The Center for Art and Design in Columbus

The Center for Art and Design in Columbus opened in 2011

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T. Kelly Wilson

T. Kelly Wilson

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Thomas Lyon Mills

Thomas Lyon Mills is one of eight artists represented in the "Drawing Upon Drawing" exhibition at the Center for Art and Design in Columbus.

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Media Contacts

Marla Roddy