A network of microphilanthropy that supports Middlebury students.

I seek funding to produce and display “The Brain in Lights,” an installation art piece combining art and science in a sculptural illustration of the brain. The piece consists of six drawings of sections of the brain etched into Plexiglas and set aglow by LED lights. When viewed together, the images are overlaid to give the viewer a 3-D sense of the fascinating architecture of the brain.

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Dollars Raised: 107%

Funding Details

Deadline: Jun 30, 2011
Total needed: $1,500


Evan C. Masseau ’11
Hinesburg, Vermont


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The Brain in Lights is an installation piece combining art and neuroscience to produce a creative and informative illustration of the brain. The piece consists of six illustrations of brain sections etched into Plexiglas glowing a pale blue under LED side lighting. So far I have completed a small prototype illustrating the rat brain. Having perfected the technique, I am now hoping to produce a large format version to illustrate the human brain. I’m looking for funding for materials, including Plexiglas, special LED lighting and aluminum frame material.

I am a neuroscience major with a penchant for visual art. I find exploring science through art can form a bridge between two disciplines often considered disparate. Visualizing complex concepts in art form makes them more accessible to wider audiences, which I think is one of the great challenges facing scientists. With advances in our knowledge coming more quickly every day, it is more important than ever to find ways to disseminate new information for the education of our society.

In this project I want to portray the brain with the accuracy of a neuroscientist and the creative hand of an artist to show the beauty and complexity of our most complex organ

10 Responses to “The Brain in Lights”

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  3. Evan Masseau says:

    Hi Everyone,
    The opening on saturday night was a great success, we had a good turnout and the show looked great in the M Gallery space. For those who weren’t able to make it, the show will be open through April 28th, and you can see photos of the opening here:

    and check out the M Gallery’s page on my show.

    Thanks !

  4. Evan Masseau says:

    Hello Again Everyone!
    A few months ago I finished constructing and wiring all seven panels. That was right before moving to Washington D.C to start my new job, and so things have been quite busy since then. Nonetheless, I’ve been working with Cha Tori and co. at “The M Gallery” in the Old Stone Mill to plan a show. We’ve settled on a date and I’ll be coming back to Vermont for a 2-week show in the M Gallery on the weekend of April 13th with an opening scheduled for Saturday the 14th beginning at 6-8pm. Thank you all for helping me to bring this project to fruition. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the opening, and to sharing with you images of the exhibit.
    Best, Evan Masseau

  5. Evan Masseau says:

    One last update for the summer:
    The pieces are finished but will not be displayed for a little while now. The matting and framing went very well and the mattes look really good. I think the three different light colors will look good together but it’s hard to judge before they hang. So far the plans for when the show will go up are pretty up in the air. I just moved down to DC to take my new job, so it will be a while before I get back up to Middlebury to hang the show. I’m hoping for around Thanksgiving time, or after the holiday so that it will be on display for students. At the moment the most likely venue is 51 main.
    I will be posting more photos of the finished product when things settle down a bit (and when I have consistent internet access)
    Thanks again to everyone for your support,
    Evan Masseau

  6. Evan Masseau says:

    Hi everyone,
    Thank you all for your support and your interest, I wanted to take a few minutes to post an update
    on my progress this summer:

    — I spent most of June and July getting copyright permissions and producing the drawings of the
    human brain sections using a neuroanatomy book as a reference
    (http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Atlas-Visual-Central-Nervous/dp/0470084766/ref=dp_ob_image_bk). I did all
    the work on the computer, drawing with a really handy digital sketchpad (purchased with Middstart funding!)
    which made the drawing much easier and faster than doing it by hand, scanning, digitizing and all that.

    — In July I made some improvements to the general design of each panel since these will be bigger than
    the Rat Brain in Lights. For this project, each panel of the piece will be 25″x35″, framed in 1″ aluminum
    channels with a frosted plexiglass “matte” around the edge. I did a test of this look on a smaller scale,
    a photo of which can be seen on my photoblog (see 23hq link above) I’ve now ordered and received my LEDs,
    Aluminum, and Acrylic and other materials, also thanks to middstart funding.

    — This past sunday, with the help of my friend Tom, who works at a car detailing company, I had the masks
    of my drawings cut into vinyl stencils. This week, with the help of my brother, who is pretty experienced
    with sandblasting and such, I’ll be attaching the stencils and sandblasting the images onto the acrylic
    panels. From there, each panel must be “matted,” lit, and framed.

    — To matte each piece I’ve had vermont specialty plastics cut 2 inch wide frosted acrylic pieces to 25
    and 35 inches with 45 degree angles so that they form a box around the perimeter of the main panel, which
    I can fuse together using methylene chloride (this is referred to as plastic welding). Again, check out
    the sample piece I made this week on my photoblog to see just how the matte looks.

    — Lighting and framing is essentially one process, involving first attaching the LED strip lights to
    the edges of each panel, and then covering over the light strips with aluminum framing material. I
    will update my 23hq account with process photos as I go along.

    As I get into the heart of the building, I’m also keeping my eye out for the best places to display
    the piece. I’m looking forward to scouting out 51, the student center and the OSM gallery as potential

    In other news, I’m moving at the end of August to start my new research job, so I have to get
    everything finished by then. Wish me luck!

    Thanks again to everyone for your support and I hope you’ll have a look at my photos as I keep them
    updated: http://www.23hq.com/Theseuslives/album/6416034
    Best, Evan Masseau

    • Evan Masseau says:

      Good news! Sandblasting is all done as of late late last night, so now its on to matting, framing and lighting.

  7. Rebecca Potts says:

    Hi Evan,

    Great project! I’m also very interested in art & science connections/collaborations (I joint-majored in Geography & Art at Midd). I’m compiling some links on art-sci stuff that might be of interest to you: http://rebeccapotts.com/artscience/index.html. Keep up the good work.


  8. Chris Ahlers says:

    Hi Evan, my brother Marcus is an artist combining art and science too. See his
    suggestion below – I don’t know if this is something of interest to you? Chris

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Marcus Ahlers
    Date: Wed, May 4, 2011 at 4:20 PM
    Subject: Re: Middlebury Senior Combines Art and Science
    To: Chris Ahlers

    Sure, I have run into many who are interested and/or working at the intersection of art and science.
    The persons description made me think of the Exploratorium (http://www.exploratorium.edu/),
    an art-science teaching museum in San Francisco. They fund selected projects. Maybe this
    would also be of interest for the Middlebury Senior.

    On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM, Chris Ahlers wrote:
    Here’s someone else combining art and science, but differently than you do. I bet
    you’ve run into others looking at the interesting intersection of art and science?

    • Evan Masseau says:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment and passing along your brother’s suggestion. I’ve never heard of this museum, I spent
      a while looking around the site and it looks really fascinating. I haven’t found any information about
      funding for external projects, I wonder if you might put me into contact with your brother if he has
      more information about the museum.
      Thanks so much,
      Evan Masseau

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