From a Rare Neurological Condition Comes Gloriously Vibrant Art

by Laura Feinstein

May 11, 2015
Inspired by Callow, Airhead, via Visual News

Synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sense can trigger an involuntary sensory experience in another—for example “hearing” color, or “tasting” a sound—is an unusual muse for creatives ranging from musicians to perfumers. While an average human’s sense mechanisms operate autonomously, synesthetes often fuse one or more senses, or cognitive pathways, simultaneously. The trait is a quirk of evolution that affects roughly 2-4 percent of the population, and has 60 known forms. Missouri painter Melissa McCracken has synesthesia and when she hears a song it instantly transforms into a pastiche of color and vibrant life. The artist’s recent “song portraits,” a series based on her synesthetic experiences, are centered on these visions. She uses oil and acrylic paint as her medium, so that the canvas becomes a backdrop for the the sensory neurons firing in her brain. Below, take a trip through the mind of McCracken, in glorious detail:

Inspired by Flip, Glass Animals, via Visual News 
Inspired by Gravity, John Mayer, via Visual News
Inspired by Imagine, John Lennon, via Visual News
Inspired by Seems So Long, Stevie Wonder, via Visual News 

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From a Rare Neurological Condition Comes Gloriously Vibrant Art