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Art of Kindness Showcases Student Experience With COVID-19

Center for BrainHealth

In celebration of World Kindness Day, the Center for BrainHealth® hosted the second annual Art of Kindness art competition for students. This year, it was held virtually in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communications (ATEC) and the Department of Computer Science (CS) – all part of The University of Texas at Dallas. Ten finalists shared their artwork describing their experience with COVID-19 illustrated through neuroscience of kindness concepts. The three esteemed judges were Lori Cook, PhD, Director of Clinical Research at Center for BrainHealth, Paul Fishwick, Distinguished University Chair of Arts Technology and Emerging Communications at UT Dallas and Randy Haney, a high school art teacher (and teacher of last year's grand prize winner). After their judges tallied their scores, three winners were announced:
Neda Ghassemi for Isolation

“I illustrate being isolated, the way most all of us feel during COVID. I chose to use the neuroscience concept of mirror neurons and utilized the fantasize, distort and subtract synectics for my design. The concept of mirror neurons resonated with me, as I feel empathy and the connections you create with people, whether consciously or subconsciously, are extremely impactful and valuable.”

Jade Nguyen for Reflection

“I thought ‘Reflection’ would be a play on words and introduce the lack of empathy for others since there are fewer interactions during this pandemic. The fractured mirror represents the breaking of mirror neurons, as we are forced to spend most of our time alone.”

Holly Havens for Smoke and Mirror Neurons

“The world can be a scary place for a child, it’s big and brand new. I think we all experienced a childlike fear this year, a fear of the unknown. I wanted to express this in a way that made it easy to grasp. It was dark and cold and a little lonely, but we started a fire and made hot chocolate.”

Attendees also cast votes in a virtual poll to choose the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Zarah Najmi for Kindness Connects

“I wanted to show kindness as an ever-growing network that inspires and connects people together. I depicted the ASL sign for love, with a single path of the network going up the arm and then into the heart. This is representative of one person showing a little kindness which inspires a few more. The branches will continue to grow outwards, connecting more people through love and kindness.”


“This year’s Art of Kindness art competition encouraged students to reflect on their lives with the abrupt changes of 2020. Now more than ever, it is imperative to address kindness as a key potentiator of brain health,” said Julie Fratantoni, PhD, lead neuroscientist of the Kindness Enterprise at Center for BrainHealth.
For more information, please visit the Art of Kindness. CONTACT Stephanie Hoefken 972.883.3221 stephanie.hoefken@utdallas.eduABOUT CENTER FOR BRAINHEALTH Center for BrainHealth®, part of The University of Texas at Dallas, is a translational research institute committed to enhancing, preserving, and restoring brain health across the lifespan. Major research areas include the use of functional and structural neuroimaging techniques to better understand the neurobiology supporting cognition and emotion in health and disease. This leading-edge scientific exploration is translated quickly into practical innovations to improve how people think, work and live, empowering people of all ages to unlock their brain potential. Translational innovations build on Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Tactics (SMART™), a proprietary methodology developed and tested by BrainHealth researchers and other teams over three decades.

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Julie Fratantoni, PhD, CCC-SLP

Head of Research Integration and Partnerships Center for BrainHealth

Related Information

Art of Kindness

Curious about the neuroscience of kindness? An interdisciplinary collaboration with UT Dallas programs in art and technology and computer science, Art of Kindness explores the link between empathy and kindness through an annual student art contest.