The initial spark for the Molecules of Emotion series started after seeing the film “What the Bleep Do We Know?” in 2004. My growing fascination led to reading Candace Pert’s book, Molecules of Emotion, links our feeling states/emotions with biochemistry. I corresponded with Dr. Pert requesting permission to use her title…thus began the new series of paintings. Candace Pert discovered the opiate receptor in October 25, 1972 as a graduate student at John Hopkins biomedicine program.
The Molecules of Emotion series focuses on molecular biology, more specifically, peptide molecules and their receptors that form the molecular language that allows mind, body and emotions to communicate. Emotions are biochemically based, and are integral and inseparable from our physiology. Peptides are messenger molecules that communicate with unique receptor sites on cell membranes throughout the entire body – like a “key fitting into a lock”, but much more dynamic per Candace Pert. The peptide is the “key” that opens the “lock” on the cell membrane causing complex and fundamental changes within the cell.
The paintings in this series visually represent the biological connection of emotions to the mind and body which are directly involved with states of health, disease, wellness and well-being.
Oxytocin is a hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is best known for it’s role in female reproduction, i.e., birth and breastfeeding. However, both sexes produce and secrete oxytocin in the brain, reproductive organs, and a few other tissues.
Neuroscience has begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various social behaviors including philanthropy, social ties, trust, empathy, generosity, altruism, “mind-reading” in recognizing social cues, cuddling, love, infatuation, shyness, bonding, anxiety, and in the treatment of personality disorders such as autism. Materials: mixed media on wood panel, 32” x 32”, $1,378.
Dopamine is a chemical produced naturally in the body. In the brain, dopamine allows nerve signals to bridge the gap, or synapse, between nerve cells. When present in normal quantities, dopamine facilitates critical brain functions, including important roles in behavior, cognition, motor activities, creativity, regulation of milk production, sleep, mood, attention, and learning. Dopamine is commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate us to carry out certain activities. Dopamine is released by naturally rewarding experiences such as food, sex, use of certain drugs and stimuli that become associated with them. Materials: oil on canvas, 30” x 48”, $1,908.
receiving St. John
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger, which allows communication among nerve and other cells. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter because it plays an important role in the regulation of mood. Serotonin, along with endorphins, norepinephrine and dopamine form the biological process known as the reward cascade.
In the painting, the neuron (nerve cell) is the yellow-green image with trailing ‘feet’ ending with yellow flowers, representing serotonin, facing each other. St. John’s wort reportedly helps regulate mood by relieving mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety. Serotonin is also involved with the sensations of satisfaction and relaxation as well as regulating the sleep-wake cycle, pain perception and appetite.
Materials: acrylic on wood panel, 32” x 32”, $1,378.