Ep 74 Featured Image Podcast

Your Brain on Art – Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen – Ep 74

March 22, 2023


The idea that art-making and life-building are in a symbiotic relationship that fuels one another is the basis behind Art2Life. Other than personally experiencing art’s life-giving ability, I’ve never had any hard evidence to support this concept…until now. Meet Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen. They’ve co-written an amazing and newly released book called Your Brain On Art that explains how our brains and bodies transform when we participate in the arts and how this knowledge can improve our health, enable us to flourish, and build stronger communities. They are both artists, creatives, visionaries, explorers, and experts in their respective fields, with so much insight into how art improves humanity. Join us for a fascinating journey into Neuroaesthetics and the science behind everything I teach.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Defining Neuroarts and how Ivy and Susan got involved in the field [3:02]
  • The benefits of embracing the neuroaesthetic mindset and expressing our true nature [10:50]
  • Energy and the art of flourishing [26:22]
  • Lightening the cognitive load and the vastness of human emotions [38:15]
  • The healing aspect of art and the role it plays in shaping the future [53:02]

What is neuroarts?

Neuroaesthetics (neuroarts for short) is the study of how the arts and aesthetic experiences measurably change our body, brain, and behavior and how that knowledge can be translated into specific practices that advance our health and well-being. However, don’t let the big name fool you. Ivy and Susan’s new book Your Brain On Art is written so anybody can understand and get something from it. The journey began when Susan sent Ivy a LinkedIn request after following her work for 25 years. What was supposed to be a 30-minute phone call turned into a 3-hour conversation that eventually got them both in a room with other artists sharing stories of how art radically changed their lives. The experience was undeniable and they both knew a book was the logical next step.

The neuroaesthetic mindset

I know art is something that brings people to life, but why? Why does creativity and art-making increase our well-being? The authors explain this brilliantly by stating that most of us go through life in a very purpose-driven and transactional way. We have so much going on that it doesn’t really allow us to let the outside world in. So something as simple as noticing your sensory experiences, engaging curiosity, and playfully exploring things can introduce joy and purpose into your life on a higher level. This is what it means to embrace the neuroaesthetic mindset. We let the outside world in through the sensory experiences of light, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Those mechanisms engage with the 100 billion neurons in our body to create neural pathways called synapses that help us learn, grow, move, think, and create all the human attributes that amplify our potential. The beauty of art is that it helps us not only create new salient experiences but that it also helps us process and connect to experiences in the past. 

Take a mental load off

Self-expression is a necessary part of our overall health. If we keep all of life’s macro and micro traumas bottled up inside, it’s not a matter of if we explode but when. There needs to be emotional movement! If we view emotions as energy in motion and humans as natively dynamic beings, then repressed emotions are actually stagnant energy that can make us sick or cause us to break down. Studies have shown that simply writing a secret down on a piece of paper and then ripping it up can lighten the cognitive load and give people more mental capacity. The same is true for art! By getting emotions out onto the canvas, you are freeing up processing power, increasing your creative capacity, and improving your mental health. Not to mention that tapping into that emotion will help you create powerful and authentic work. Listen to this episode for more insights on neuroaesthetics and art’s positive impact on the brain! 

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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