Memory has a profound effect on the visual senses. We take a look at three artists whose work is intrinsically related to memory. Lonni Sue Johnson, a once successful illustrator whose work has appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker, became an amnesiac after a bout of encephalitis. However, using her visual skills in what she calls “recovery art”, she captures her thoughts before they vanish. Stephen Wiltshire has quite the opposite situation, his memory being so photographic that he can create citywide panoramas after seeing them just once. Greg Dunn is a scientist turned artist. He portrays neurons, the cellular stuff of memories, in striking paintings.
Lonni Sue Johnson
WHERE: Princeton, NJ. PAST LIFE: Magazine Artist
In order to grasp the present moment, before it vanishes from memory, she urgently writes and draws. Thoughts, which would otherwise be constantly slipping away, are held on the page, where she can build ideas.
WHERE: London. MEDIA: Graphic Pens, up to 12 per sketch
When Wiltshire took the helicopter ride over Rome, he drew it in such great detail that he drew the exact number of columns in the Pantheon.
INSPIRATION: Asian Art. PAST LIFE: PhD in Neuroscience
“It was a fine day when two of my passions came together upon the realization that the elegant forms of neurons (the cells that comprise your brain) can be painted expressively in the Asian sumi-e style. Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they possess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of the medium (trees, flowers, and animals).”