Art and Neuroscience Collide at the New Justin Institute
Curated by Scott Perry, M.D., the Institute’s neuro art collection creates a soothing ambiance and sparks curiosity.
Story by Charlotte Settle. Video by Tom Riehm.
The highly anticipated Jane and John Justin Institute for Mind Health will open its doors at Cook Children’s this month. The Institute brings together nine specialties that treat disorders of the nervous system, allowing kids with neurological conditions to receive the holistic care they need under one roof.
“The concept behind the institute is that these nine specialties share not only a lot of patients, but the same working system in the care that we provide,” says the head of the Justin Institute, Scott Perry, MD. “We want to improve the patient experience and outcome by making sure we're collaborating in the care of every patient, every day, at all times.”
The Neuro Art Collection
To prepare for the arrival of patients and their families, Dr. Perry curated a collection of awe-inspiring artwork that combines creativity with elements of neuroscience.
“I love art very much, and it’s a great way to connect with kids,” he said.
Every artist involved in the neuro art collection has some connection to neuroscience — some are PhD neuroscientists themselves and others have disorders of the nervous system.
“A lot of people think neuroscience and the brain are super complex,” Dr. Perry said. “We hope this art draws people in to learn a little bit more about it.” Each artwork will have a corresponding QR code that links to information about the artist, how the piece was made, and how it’s connected to neuroscience.
Featured Artists and Artworks
The very first piece in the neuro art collection was created by embroidery artist, Laura Bundeson. Dr. Perry asked her to make a custom piece out of Epilepsy Awareness T-shirts he had designed over the years, and she stitched them together into the shape of a brain. Dr. Perry also worked with Bundeson to create a custom brain pin for all Justin Institute employees to wear.
Michele Banks, a Washington D.C.-based artist, painted watercolor brains for the collection. She infused each work with calming, nature-related designs, including rivers, trees, fields, and oceans.
Glass artist and retired oncologist, Reneé Tegeler, created four vibrant fused glass brains. Each piece represents one of the institute’s main groups—neuroscience, child study, psychology, and psychiatry.
Developmental neurobiologist and woodworker, Louis-Jan Pilaz, contributed several wooden animals made up of different types of brain cells.
“We presented him with the idea of making animals out of neurons to relate to the kids we take care of, and he took it and ran with it,” Dr. Perry said.
The Institute will also feature a nine-by-fifteen foot mural by blind painter, John Bramblitt.
“I can’t wait to see the final product because I asked him to hide things in the picture for kids to find,” Dr. Perry said. The mural will also pay homage to the recently retired founding members of the Cook Children’s neurology and neurosurgery departments.
A Comfortable Space for Patients and Families
“When we thought about creating this space, we thought about the kinds of children that are going to be seen here,” Dr. Perry said. “Kids with behavioral developmental disorders — things like autism — and we thought, what can we do to make it a comfortable environment for them without too much sensory overload?”
Every detail of the Justin Institute has been carefully chosen to create a stimulating, yet soothing space for kids with neurological conditions and their families. Whether it’s searching for a clue on a mural or trying to guess what kind of cells a wooden animal is made of, the Institute will offer limitless ways for patients to engage with art and science in new and exciting ways.
Jane and John Justin Institute for Mind Health at Cook Children's
Kids with neurological disorders often face many challenges—and see many specialists. For many families, that means multiple visits to different locations. At Cook Children's, we're changing the way we deliver care by making their journey easier. How? By opening the doors to care that's centered around the unique needs of our patients and their families.
Introducing the Jane and John Justin Institute for Mind Health at Cook Children's—bringing together nine specialties under one roof. Pediatric specialists in neurological, developmental, and behavioral health are changing the way we deliver health care. Together, we're healing minds and bodies, sharing smiles that warm the soul, and connecting care for kids unlike anyone else.