Neuroplasticity or ‘I love you, Gertrūda’


image source: Washington Post

Neuroplasticity - or brain plasticity – is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself.
It explains how the human brain is able to adapt, master new skills, store memories and information and even recover after a traumatic brain injury. 

Like many other things - neuroplasticity is an ongoing process. 

I saw a Ted Talk by Dr. Kelly Lambertabout Neuroplasticity, where she mentioned that doctors used to prescribe knitting for anxious women - without knowing why.
A very vague summary - knitting releases serotonin.

serotonin is released with repetitive movement, which improves mood and sense of calmness. After you've learned knitting or crochet, it can also reduce blood levels of cortisol-the stress hormone’.) - source

Prescribed knitting: There is also such thing as a knitting therapy (very vague - A study published by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy reports that knitters who knit frequently are calm, happy and experience higher cognitive functioning.)
Creating objects by knitting also releases dopamine (related with feelings of reward);

I also heard a few podcast episodes by Shauna Shapiro (PHD, a best-selling author, professor, clinical psychologist and internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and self-compassion); 

Some quotes I liked:

“Self-compassion releases oxytocin (safety and connection) + endorphins (natural, feel-good neurotransmitters)”

“Self esteem needs success to prove your self-worth, whereas self-compassion says you are worthy no matter what”

I got really intrigued by the compassion practice she was talking about - the exercise of repeating  ‘I love you, ____ (your name)’ every single day. However, she also mentioned that this sentence was a bit too extreme for her so in her book she suggests to replace it by ‘Good Morning, ____ (your name)’

However, none of all possible self-compassion practices are too extreme for me!
I got very inspired and motivated by the knitting and it’s connection with neuroscience as well as the repetative self-compassion practices;

Besides knitting being perceived as a mindful hobby (or even a radical practice) there are also very many uses of knitting in art history.

Besides knitting being a form of resistance (one example - various political knitting circles), knitting’s visibility is growing and one can find many sources in the last 10 years how ‘knitting is becoming cool again’. In my perception it’s becoming a part of mainstream personal development, self-help or however you call these current  zeigeisty techniques.

Neuroplasticity is also swimming in the same personal-pain-soothing-solutions oriented pool. But also it appears to me that it’s kind of trendy in contemporary art and academia. 

There are many other activities
that are supposed to increase neuroplasticity, such as - memory tasks and games; learning to juggle; learning to play a new instrument; learning a new language; yoga etc.
annnnd CREATING A NEW ARTWORK (a double win basically)

I 💖  the repetive, ritualistic act of knitting and learning it,
how it looks visually
as both - video performance, process-based work,
as a digital artwork that made it to IRL,
self-perfecting crafts-utilizing challenge,
one cure for everything (I mean something similar to ‘microdosing’)



I really like the idea of talking about your personal issues (’appropriating vulnerabily’ but also ‘appropriating creativity’ in a way) as a form of r-e-l-e-t-a-b-l-e art 
I also really interested into performative personal development, as well as performative hobbies. 


Main focus of my work - personal development as a performative practice and I’m intrigued by exposing and reducing anxiety, rewiring brain, learning new skills, developing habbits, practising wholesome activities as artistic tools. 
My goal (object to change) is to create a long form durational ritual and repetation based performance where I knit in order to practice neuroplasticity & self-compassion, decrease anxiety (and get all other effects of this type of mindfluness practice) at the same time creating art objects.


I will document a process of learning and knitting while making the same scarf with ‘I love you, Gertrūda’ written on it.

The project will end when one (or all) of them will be sold in art market as art objects.