Portrait of a dyslexic artist, who transforms neurons into ‘butterflies’

Rebecca Kamen’s sculptures arose from her fascination with the brain after she discovered that she was dyslexic. “I would read and read and read — and I couldn’t remember what I was reading. I just thought, ‘Well maybe that is how people read.’” Completing basic math, such as memorizing multiplication tables, was also a challenge. “When I first entered college, the counselor asked my parents why they were wasting their money sending me to college,” Kamen said. “In his estimation, I wasn’t college material.”

“I learned about things by taking things apart, examining them,” Kamen said. “I think that enabled me to develop the skills of working with my hands more than just processing things in a more linear way.”
Kamen believes the artist and the scientist have similar missions. They both search for meaningful patterns, create compelling narratives and deal with invisible worlds. She transformed her scientific knowledge of the brain into artwork, which is now on display at the Porter Neuroscience Research Center.

People with dyslexia, Kamen said, understand things in relationship to other things, “which in retrospect, is such an incredible gift,” Kamen explained. Kamen still struggles with certain tasks because of her dyslexia, but she has learned how to manage those challenges through her artwork. “I embraced the fact that what appears as a learning obstacle seems to have contributed a great deal to how I navigate and experience the world.”

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“Dyslexia” by Rikst Westra

“Dyslexia” by Rikst Westra. “As a child dyslexia had been explained to me as ‘a missing road’ so the information has to take a detour. These detours are different with every dyslexic and so dyslexia is different with every dyslexic. That’s why ‘the one solution’ doesn’t exist. This made me think of a map. Every stage of the process is a city. I explain what happens in each city and which problems dyslexics could run into if the city doesn’t work ‘properly’.”

See more images and read more about this work here: http://visualoop.com/2660/dyslexia-by-rikst-westra