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Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series


“In both the arts and the sciences, if we do our jobs well, it never leads to a final answer — always to more questions.” — Janet Biggs

The Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series is the most ambitious lineup of public programs the museum has ever organized around a single exhibition. Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown features works inspired by the artist’s memories of the effects of Alzheimer’s on family members. Combining video, sound and objects, this multidimensional exhibition draws on heroic stories of public figures coping with the disease and research conducted with neurologists and geoscientists to raise fundamental questions about how we become—and lose our sense of—who we are.

Designed to amplify the exhibition’s role as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary learning, the series’ lectures, presentations, gallery talks and interactive programs will highlight collaborations across the UH community and beyond.

All events are free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Walk-ins are welcome when space permits, but reserving a free ticket guarantees admission up to five minutes before the event start time.


Jan. 28, noon, Blaffer Art Museum: Dr. Jason Eriksen, UH associate professor of pharmacology, on the science of exercise and Alzheimer’s Disease

Feb. 3, noon, Blaffer Art Museum: Dr. Larry Shi, UH assistant professor of computer science, will present previous work and envisioned research on applying smart and computing techniques in the area of Alzheimer and dementia.

Feb. 17, 4 p.m., Blaffer Art Museum: “Memory & Identity: Five Writers Talk about the Difficult & Dynamic Relationship Between the Two” with Peter Turchi, author of A Muse & A Maze; Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Other Side; Nancy Pearson, author of Two Minutes of Light; Jameelah Lang, Ph.D candidate, UH Creative Writing Program; & David Stuart MacLean, author of The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia.

Feb. 19, noon, Cullen Performance Hall: Lecture by Dr. Lisa Genova, neuroscientist and author of Still Alice; Q&A led by Dr. Joseph Masdeu, medical director of Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Hospital. The presentation will be simulcast into the Research Institute at Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

Feb. 25, noon, Blaffer Art Museum: “Your Brain on Art: Understanding the Brain in Creative Action and Context” by Dr. Jose L. “Pepe” Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor, UH Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and full affiliate member, Neurosciences Research Program at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

Feb. 26, noon, Blaffer Art Museum: Dr. William Winslade, UH professor of law, on “Dementia: Legal, Ethical, and Psychological Issues of Alzheimer’s.”

Feb. 27, noon, Jose Quintero Theatre: Becky Valls, UH associate professor of dance, performs Red Square wearing a skullcap embedded with electrodes to track her brainwaves, causing them to alter the stage lighting.

March 3, 1 p.m., Dudley Recital Hall: Dr. Corene Hurt-Thaut, professor of neurologic music therapy at Colorado State University and researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research in Music.

March 4, noon, Blaffer Art Museum: Dr. Robert Zaretsky, UH Honors College, author of Boswell’s Enlightenment (Harvard, Spring 2015); on the French Encyclopédie and the reshaping of the modern self. (Also in conjunction with Mel Chin: Rematch.)

March 10, 3 p.m., UC Ballroom: Dr. Dan O’Connor, UH associate professor of health and human performance; Dr. Donald Ingram, professor of nutritional neuroscience and aging, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System; and Dr. Felipe Sierra, director, Division of Aging Biology, National Institute on Aging on “The Serious Search for an Anti-Aging Pill.”

March 12, 6:30 p.m., Glassell School of Art (Freed Auditorium): Janet Biggs in conversation with exhibition curator Janet Phelps and Todd DeShields Smith, director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art and organizer of Biggs’ 2011 mid-career survey No Limits.