What was the inspiration behind your artwork?
Honestly, it all started as a doodle I made while designing a postcard for an outreach activity I was helping plan at my institution. I loved the idea of representing a neuron/tree hybrid since their shapes have such visual similarity, and wanted to create a visualization of my lab's work on Alzheimer's disease with that idea. I'm also passionate about the intersection between mental health and the explosive growth of neurodegenerative diseases as the population ages; this project will be a challenging but worthwhile way for me to explore how to illustrate that intersection. When I taught Anatomy and Physiology, I found that analogies were always an excellent way to explain complex physiological processes. For example, when teaching how neurons generate action potentials, instructors often refer to neurons as being like, “a banana in the ocean” – high concentrations of potassium inside the cell, and high concentrations of sodium outside the cell. This primes the neuron for electrochemical transport as potassium and sodium travel down their concentration gradients and change the charge of the cell. I also loved pointing out the beautiful design similarities between anatomical structures and other features in nature.
What do you see as the similarity between science and art? Why is science-art important in today's society?
To me, the essence of science is a blend of working to uncover hidden truths and presenting those truths by storytelling. Creativity underlies much of the routine problem-solving in the lab, as well as the intuitive leaps of insight that propel ideas forward. Meanwhile, art is a means to connect with others to tell a story, and can speak to "non-scientists" in a way that technical documents often cannot. I also firmly believe we all start out as both scientists and artists as children; however, some of us may forget the thrill of discovery or begin to feel self conscious of our creative sides. Merging science and art together is a way of bringing that childlike sense of wonder back to the forefront of our minds.
Get to know the artist!
Savannah Tallino, M.S., Research Specialist at the Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University.
Get in touch!
Follow Savannah on Instagram: @the_artful_biologist