My name's Ralph Helmick, and I'm a sculptor.
I was asked if there was some way
to create an artwork that could help
guide a visitor from the street level up
to the third floor main entrance to the Institute.
What's behind me is what we ended up with.
100 gold leaf unique sculptures of neurons.
They're made out of a matrix of stainless steel and bronze.
And they range in size from over 3 feet long to about 12 inches
tip to tip and suspended very, very precisely.
I came up with 5 different cell bodies, different kinds
of dendritic forms.
And so I made kits of parts of different sizes
that I could then customize and assemble.
And I developed these forms in consultation
with people at the lab.
I chose gold leafing, because it catches light so beautifully.
And one of the experimenters here,
they said they actually use gold in one line of inquiry
The title of this piece is Schwerpunkt and that's a German
word one of the definitions of which is 'focal point.'
When one views it from a sweet spot that
is just as one's about to enter the main office of the McGovern
Institute, one can look down toward the entry and all
these hundred neurons optically collapse
into a graphic image of a brain hemisphere.
That optical phenomenon is called anamorphosis.
I think in Greek that translates to reformation or re-creation.
For me, this is a metaphor for the discovery
that goes on in the building.
Maybe a metaphor for the elegant design
of many of the experiments that are taking place here.
What they do here is so profound on a practical level,
and maybe in a way that art is not practical.
I hope that Schwerpunkt could recall or evoke
that sense of discovery.
I think as a culture we're hungry for surprise,
we're hungry for optical phenomenon.
We're hungry for a positive experience.
That's what I'm trying to do here,
is something that elevates us.
And I think every researcher in this building
is doing research that seeks to elevate our culture.