BAASICS.3 The Deep End


ODC Theater | 3153 17th Street @ Shotwell, SF CA 94110
Monday, May 6, 2013 | 7-9pm (doors at 6:30pm)
Reception to follow @ Root Division (right next door to ODC)
This event is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited, so come early.

Psychiatric and neurologic conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, and dementia have been associated with genius or prophetic insight since antiquity. In the fourth century B.C.E., Aristotle claimed “that all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and politics […] had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.” Plato wrote of a species of “madness which is a divine gift, and the source of the chiefest blessings granted to men.” 2,400 years later, the correlation persists. Is it a misguided romantic notion or does new research suggest it is true? And how does our increasing awareness of biological and psychological diversity complicate assumptions about innate gifts and afflictions?

BAASICS.3: The Deep End brings together a diverse group of artists and scientists to consider these questions and others. Dr. Walter Freeman will consider how chaos in the brain may endow us with the ability to respond flexibly to the outside world and to generate novel ideas; photographer Timothy Archibald and his son, Eli, will share their experience collaborating with one another on a collection of compelling images that sheds light on the autistic experience; artist Leeza Doreian will present a survey of artworks by Creativity Explored artists and speak about the organization’s mission to provide developmentally disabled individuals with opportunities to create artwork and pursue careers in the visual arts; and more. Wade into the deep end with BAASICS co-founders and producers Selene Foster and Christopher Reiger for a provocative, moving, and entertaining evening.

Following the ODC Theater program, a reception will be held immediately next door, at Root Division, an arts and arts education non-profit. Join us for drinks, good conversation, networking, and an opportunity to win some fantastic door prizes from our sponsor, Lumosity.

BAASICS.3: The Deep End Participants:
Hannah Addario-Berry – Solo Cello Performance
Leeza Doreian — Con-Currents: Creativity, Individuality, and Community
Professor Walter J Freeman, MD – Persevere or perseverate? How brain chaos surmounts challenges
Indre Viskontas, PhD – Release from Inhibition: The creative impulse in patients with dementia
Katherine Sherwood – How a Cerebral Hemorrhage Altered My Art
Timothy Archibald – ECHOLILIA : Walking the Path on the Autistic Spectrum
Terrence Ketter, MD – Creativity, Mood, and Temperament in Bipolar Disorder

Read more about the BAASICS.3: The Deep End participants HERE.


Aditionally, we extend a BIG thank you to our BAASICS.3: The Deep End Kickstarter project supporters:

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

13 Responses to “BAASICS.3 The Deep End

  1. BAASICS May 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Please add your thoughts about the program below!

  2. BAASICS May 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    A question for Indre, perhaps, from “BAASICS.3: The Deep End” attendee, Joe Bamberg:

    “It was a great event. I was curious if tDCS could be used to test the idea that language aphasia affects artistic ability. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a simple procedure (you can do it with a 9 volt battery and a few parts from radio shack) where a small current is applies to the head in various locations causing areas of the brain underneath where the electrodes are placed to be temporarily stimulated or suppressed. A recent paper showed how it could be used to enable people to solve a problem that has a solution outside of one’s normal assumptions. They have used tDCS to enhance language ability but I suspect no one has explored the effects of suppressing language ability.

    • Indre Viskontas June 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Joe – First let me apologize for the slow response time to your question. tDCS is indeed gaining more popularity as a technique in neuroscience but it has many limitations, the most problematic for creativity research being its transience. Because the production of art requires many steps, and tDCS bursts are short, it’s hard to measure its effects on artistic output. I know that Alan Snyder in Australia has used it in several studies but his results are often limited to a small subset of his participants and remain very controversial and hard to replicate. I think the technique holds promise but for now, I believe that we can learn more from aphasic patients than from brief language function interruptions in healthy controls. This is partly because I think that it takes time for the brain to compensate for language disruption in a way that enables creativity and the brief pulse of tDCS does not allow for any significant plasticity to occur. Hope this helps. Best, Indre

  3. BAASICS May 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Observations from Matt, “BAASICS.3: The Deep End” attendee:

    “Overall, great. For something ‘free:’ amazing. I wanted to hear more about outsider art, and was a little surprised some outsider art to be totally overlooked; also, I realize neuroscience is a buzzword, and it is prestigious to have Stanford and Berkeley researchers giving presentations, but, and I mean this kindly, being a good researcher does not make one a charismatic speaker. I really wanted to explore more of Freeman’s ideas about chaos, but the QA was cut short and he left early. Sad, sad. Still! I loved it.”

    • Christopher May 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

      Thanks for coming and for submitting your thoughtful comments, Matt.

      I’m interested in your clarifying your observation about outsider art being overlooked. Were there particular artists you expected to be highlighted/showcased? If so, who?

      While the label wasn’t always applied — except during my short critique of our labelling compulsion and during Katherine Sherwood’s presentation — there were a number of artists’ works discussed that are usually dubbed outsider pieces (e.g., Louis Wain’s schizophrenic cat series highlighted by Walter Freeman or all of the work by Creativity Explored artists surveyed by Leeza Doreian).

      My explanation for why term didn’t crop up more in the course of the program corresponds to Eli Archibald’s observation that when you’re considered “not normal,” it’s actually the rest of the population, the healthy controls, if you will, that seem abnormal. Thus, the Creativity Explored artists don’t call themselves Outsider Artists (so Leeza doesn’t call them that either).

      Regarding the Q&A being cut short, yes, that’s our fault. The BAASICS programs were originally designed to have no Q&A built into the presentations (which are supposed to be 8-15 minutes each) so that attendees could directly ask the presenters any questions they have during the post-program reception. One challenge of having an evening program on a school night is that some presenters (and certainly many attendees) can’t linger after the program. As a result, we added some Q&A time to several of the presentations, but it was our first time doing so…and we met with mixed success. This is something we need to tighten going forward, and we appreciate hearing that it was frustrating for you to not have more Q&A time with Walter Freeman.

      • Matt W. May 8, 2013 at 4:16 am #

        Hey Chris,

        I really have to underscore the fact that I really, really enjoyed BAASICS.3–being an LA transplant since last October, I’ve really struggled to find social functions that really “click,” ya know? You and the work of your colleague, Selene, in executing the vision for “Deep End” cannot be overlooked, and in fact, given my best praise. I particularly enjoyed your apt assessment on the “problematization” of outsider art.

        That said, my comments are perhaps unfair. As I feared, it was inevitable that I’d draw comparisons of last nights proceedings with my own experiences attending “somewhat similar” events as an ungraduate student in neuroscience and creative writing at Vanderbilt, and an MFA student at California Institute of the Arts. I will not bore you with autobiography, but I did find great resonance as a researcher and artist last night with the content and presentation of your event…and I most definitely want more! And perhaps even more involvement/collaboration! Moving on…

        “Overlooked” was too strong a word in terms of how it relates to last nights seque on “outsider art (you can’t overlook what is ‘outside’ can you?).” I mean, I garnered far a lot of enjoyment and knowledge from those presentations that did give a nod to “outsider artists.” The only thing is…I was anticipating the mention of one outsider artist I learned about in an undergrad seminar on Schizophrenia: Henry Darger. In the end, I figured Darger was perhaps too obvious a choice, but…well, watch this film trailer:

        The QA stuff and not getting to chat with Dr. Freeman are understandable limitations of the format of BAASICS. I actually did not mind.

        I wouldn’t mind chatting more about this stuff, or other topics! I’m here to explore ideas, just like (I think) a lot of people are.


  4. BAASICS May 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Observations from Mark, “BAASICS.3: The Deep End” attendee:

    “I’d just like to say thank you so much for a wonderfully inspiring, uplifting and stimulating evening at ODC last night. Obviously a great deal of work went into it and it was certainly appreciated by those of us who were lucky enough to witness it.

    i would have liked to stay around to thank you in person but after the extensive program, our need for food was pressing.”

  5. Carmela Thompson May 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Hi. I really enjoyed the session. I felt it was a good balance of science talks and visual art. My two favorites were Dr. Ketter and Dr. Viskontas. Looking forward to the video post so I can refer back. My only criticism is it was a wee bit long. I wrote a short piece on my blog about a conversation with Dr. Ketter, for those that might be interested:

    • Christopher June 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      Hi, Carmela.

      Thanks very much for the feedback and encouragement!

      We completely agree that the program ran longer than we would have liked, and will address this issue going forward.

      Look for the video documentation later this summer.

      Best wishes,

  6. Joe Bamberg May 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Jessica Yu, who did one of my favorite films, “Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien”, also did “The Living Museum” and there was a book to accompany the film. The living museum is an art studio on the grounds of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York and for me it was my first exposure to how differently you see people who you might label as “mentally ill” or “disabled” after you see the art they create. I would be curious to see it again but it may not be easy to find a copy.

    • Christopher June 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      Hi, Joe.

      Thanks for the recommendation; we’ll check it out.

      Best wishes,


  1. Longing is Just the Heart | Wicked Cultured - May 24, 2013

    […] Foster, the BAASICS Co-founder, opened the most-recent session of BAASICS: the Deep End, with a statement regarding familial bonds, mental illness, and art, that quite literally, impacted […]

  2. 2013 – a Lyric, Datum, & Anecdote Laced with Irony. | Wicked Cultured - January 1, 2014

    […] Collaborative Sessions might have a ridiculously clumsy acronym, but their May 6 session, The Deep End, blew me away. A blend of science, art and personal presentation, this event made me realize that […]

Leave a Reply to Christopher