A Sojourn to Spain with Ramón y Cajal: Fulbright España Senior Research Fellowship Awarded to Dawn Hunter

The prestigious Fulbright España Senior Research Fellowship had been awarded to Dawn Hunter, an associate professor in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

The award is in support of her new series of drawings and paintings titled Aesthetic Instincts: the Intersection of Art and Science in the life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal. This new body of artwork is an immersive, comprehensive biographical project that, through visual art, examines and represents the life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (May 1, 1852 – October 17, 1934). Ramón y Cajal was a Spanish scientist and the first person to demonstrate that the nervous system was made up of individual units (neurons) that were independent of one another but linked together at points of functional contact called synapses. Ramón y Cajal illustrated the results of his studies with elegant drawings of neurons that he proposed work independently or collectively, and that each individual unit can participate simultaneously in individual or multiple neuron functions. Ramón y Cajal was a 1906 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine that was awarded jointly to another neuroscientist, Camillo Golgi “in recognition of their work on the structure of the nervous system,” however, their research was mutually exclusive and embraced opposing theses. Santiago Ramón y Cajal is considered by many to be the father of modern neuroscience.


Dawn Hunter, “Portrait of Cajal in Pyramidal Neurons”, ink and pen on paper, 2015

Hunter said: “It is an honor to receive such a tremendous life-changing opportunity. I am immensely thankful to everyone at my University, the NIH and the Instituto Cajal who have helped me in the development and realization of this project. I am particularly grateful the Dr. Jim Augustine for believing in the vision of my idea and encouraging me to invest in this creative endeavor. Cajal was such a fascinating and inspiring individual. I look forward to deepening my understanding of him and his work through this upcoming sojourn in Spain.”


Dawn Hunter, detail from “Cajal Inventory: Silveriahead”, heart and spine, graphite, ink and acrylic on paper, 11″ x 14,” 2016

While in Spain, Hunter will continue the development of her creative project by researching the archives of the Cajal Legacy of the Cajal Institute or Instituto Cajal. The Cajal Legacy contains many items bequeathed to the Instituto Cajal, which includes some research items like microscopes, manuscripts, medals, as well as Cajal’s scientific drawings and photographs. The Instituto Cajal is the oldest neurobiology research center in Spain which belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The Cajal Institute originates from the Laboratorio de Investigaciones Biológicas, founded in 1900 by order of King Alfonso XIII in honor of the Moscow Prize awarded to Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Dr. Juan De Carlos, the curator of the Cajal Legacy, invited Hunter to apply for a Fulbright at the Instituto Cajal after meeting her and seeing her speak at a professional meeting hosted by the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD. NINDS Senior Investigator, Jeff Diamond, invited Hunter to deliver a presentation at the first international symposium honoring Cajal, October 2015 held at the NIH. Hunter also participated in the second international conference, May 2017 held at the Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain.


Dawn Hunter with Cajal Inventory exhibition, May 2017, Instituto Cajal, Madrid Spain – exhibition was held as part of the 2nd Collaborative International Symposium honor Cajal coordinated by the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD and the Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain.

Fulbright Scholar awards are made possible through funds appropriated annually by the US Congress, contributions from partner countries and the private sector. The Fulbright program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other nations.

Dawn Hunter pursued her undergraduate studies at the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA), Parsons School of Design, and the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art & Music. As a Regents Fellow, she received her MFA from the University of California, Davis. She has participated in numerous solo and multiple artist exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Additionally, she has also received many awards and grants for her artwork, most notably, a Starr Foundation Fellowship, enabling her to be the first American woman to serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Royal Academy of Art, London. A selection of seven artworks from her series, Aesthetic Instincts: the Intersection of Art and Science in the life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, are currently on display alongside several original scientific drawings completed by Cajal at the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD. NINDS Senior Investigator, Jeff Diamond curated the exhibition.

For further information e-mail to (dawnmariehunter@yahoo.com) or visit (www.dawnhunterart.com).

 

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