Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery presents Director's Choice lunchtime lecture October 23 with focus on current Robert January exhibition from a neurologist's view


Image: Frank WilsonRobert January's "Art & Human Consciousness," the current exhibition on display through Dec. 6 at Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, "focuses on the intimate act of drawing and its unique role in the development of human consciousness and art making," writes Gallery Director Diana Mille in the exhibition catalogue. Mille initiates the Director's Choice lunchtime lecture series on Friday, Oct. 23 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with neurologist and author Frank Wilson, M.D. Wilson will be joined by the artist. The lecture is free and all are invited to bring lunch.

Wilson's topic, "Coming to Grips with the Human Hand - A lunch-hour meditation on stones, bones and the declarative mind" poses questions formed from January's approach to painting. Wilson says, "Mr. January has done us all a great service not merely by painting as he does, but by connecting his work to the oldest examples we have of human expression using a visible medium." He continues, "He raises extremely interesting questions about the role his hands have played in his personal development and in his astonishing accomplishments as a late-blooming painter."

As a neurologist, Wilson will lend a degree of support to what January expresses about the origins and motives that underlie this artist's unique artistry.

According to Mille, "Dr. Wilson explores the deep structure and language of the arts by examining the relationship of the hand to cognitive and artistic development. He focuses, for example, on how the hand connects people to the world by conveying meaning and emotion - the essence of artistic creativity."

Image: January paintingInnately skeptical, Wilson explores the central claim of prominent specialists in the sciences of human communication that human language is a consequence of neurological processes that endow Homo sapiens with the ability to generate and share symbols. In his scientific experience, Wilson finds no trace "in any brain scan, nor is there anything in the head of any neuroscientist that can tell us why or how people like Robert January do what they do or why those of us who react strongly to a painting are affected by it as we are.

Wilson was a founder of the Health Program for Performing Artists at the University of California San Francisco, its medical director from 1996-2000, and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Stanford University Medical Center until 2004. He has long been interested in the neurology and anthropology of skilled hand movement, and is a widely respected authority on the origins and treatment of acquired hand disorders. He is the author of two monographs on the hand, the second of which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 9, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 86