LIBRARY INSIDER: Neuro-inspired art to inspire all at Health Sciences Library System

"Self Reflected" by Greg Dunn


The Health Sciences Library System is pleased to bring “Art on the Brain,” an exhibit in the Falk Library fusing art and science, to the Pitt community and our region. Unlike most hosted exhibits, the current display features artwork that is part of the library’s permanent collection. Greg Dunn, artist and neuroscientist, designed the six neurology-themed pieces.

Dunn’s artistic practice is rooted in Japanese ink wash painting, or sumi-e, which aims to capture the liveliness of natural forms in ink on paper. As Dunn writes on his website, “Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they possess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of the medium (trees, flowers, and animals).”

In addition to painting, Dunn has developed a unique printmaking process called “microetching,” in which minutely detailed images of the brain are transformed through algorithmic processing and rendered in shimmering gold leaf. The micro-etched “Self Reflected” is on display with special lighting to illuminate and mimic the connections made in our brain. Rusty on your brain anatomy? The exhibit also provides a guide to what brain regions are being represented in this signature piece.

Another unique piece in the collection is “Visual cortex,” which was custom designed for HSLS. The four accompanying pieces of art are titled “Olfactory Bulb,” “Synaptogenesis,” “Basket & Pyramidals” and “Retina in Inks.” Several videos of his artistic process can be viewed on the exhibit’s digital screen. To explore more of Dunn’s designs, visit

On the library upper floor, Dunn’s artwork is accompanied by a creativity station. Just in time for some finals week relief, visitors are encouraged to build a brainy puzzle, use an app to create digital art, color your own brain images, or attend a creativity and relaxation session. Does all of the beautiful art have you feeling inspired? Compete in our coloring contest to win a cool neuro-themed prize!

The current exhibit, on display through May 31, extends to include locally produced images from Pitt’s Center for Biologic Imaging. CBI’s mosaic posters are prominent in the main floor study area, while journal covers and other artfully designed prints are viewable in the display cases of the main hallway of the library. Video animations produced by CBI are also included on the digital screen in the exhibit area.

The final exhibit event will be an Introduction to the Brain Image Library. The Brain Image Library is a national public resource enabling researchers to deposit, analyze, mine, share and interact with large brain image datasets. This introductory session will take place at 1 p.m. May 29 in Falk Library’s upper floor exhibit area.

Julia Dahm is the coordinator of technology integration services at the Health Sciences Library System.