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UMPI to host second annual brain art event in honor of Brain Awareness Week

Art and science will come together at the University of Maine at Presque Isle when two professors host a second annual event in honor of internationally celebrated Brain Awareness Week. “North of Ordinary NeuroArt Night” will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 in the Pullen Hall Art Room.

Biology professor Dr. Rachael Hannah and Art professor Hyrum Benson are teaming up to offer a fun art project that also will teach participants about brain function and neuroscience. Benson will be creating plaster brains that participants will be able to paint under his guidance. Hannah will offer a 15-minute presentation about the human brain, showing how brains are mapped, and then participants will use that information and their imagination to create their brain art.

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research, according to the official BAW website. During BAW, campaign partners organize creative and innovative activities in their communities to educate and excite people of all ages about the brain and brain research. Founded and coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and European Dana Alliance for the Brain, BAW’s 17th annual celebration will take place from March 12-18, 2012.

North of Ordinary NeuroArt Night is an official BAW event. Hannah, who earned her Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of Vermont in 2010, has visited schools in Vermont to talk about brain activity during past BAW celebrations. She said she wanted to do a BAW event in northern Maine, and wanted to have the event include an art project. Hannah approached Benson about making the “brains” for this year’s NeuroArt night, resulting in an excellent science and art collaboration for the second year in a row.

“I was very excited to get involved in an activity that brings ceramics and neurobiology together – it’s not your typical combination, but it is an excellent way for students and community members to learn about brain function in a very tangible way,” Benson said.

Hannah believes that approaching neuroscience from an artistic point of view will help people to gain a greater appreciation for the subject and an increased willingness to learn more.

“I am passionate about neuroscience research and expanding what we know about our brains. I love sharing my passion with others and enjoy exploring our brains!” Hannah said.

North of Ordinary NeuroArt Night will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 in the Pullen Hall Art Room, which is located on the third floor of Pullen Hall. The event is open to campus and community members 16 and older; or younger if supervised by a parent. Pamphlets and other materials that provide fun information and activities about the brain and brain function will be available at the event. For more information, contact Hannah at