Kindness is free, let’s pass it on:

A collaborative art-science exploration between Susan Brisco and Kanj Nicolas – two artists looking into kindness in the community and the astonishing science of kindness. 


Read more in the e-catalogue here .


Project Statement – Susan Brisco

The Science of Kindness (see page 18 onwards)

The warm feeling of wellbeing that washes over you when you’ve just done something kind isn’t just in your head – it’s in your brain chemicals too! (Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, non-profit Hospital, LA, USA)

Susan Brisco’s artwork focuses on the science of kindness and the astonishing biology taking place inside our body when giving or receiving kindness. She aims to share and inform how kindness stimulates the release of chemical messengers in the brain giving us feelings of pleasure, known as the ‘helpers high’. Science research highlights how kindness actually makes us healthier as cocktails of feel-good hormones (oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine) calm the parasympathetic nervous system which in turn, lowers our blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression and helps improve our immune system function. 



Susan’s contemporary anatomical-style works are inspired from drawings recorded by scientists of 19th century of micro-architectures of the brain juxtaposed with 21st century science and imagery. The delicate sepia ink drawings feature tendril-like threads of nerves fibres, dense forest networks of neurones and curvaceous features of the brain. The common factors unite narratives of chemical changes arising in the body from acts of kindness. The large-scale ink drawings, rendered on translucent vellum paper, hang as though suspended in mid-air to present an ethereal impression of inside our brain and body.




What colour is kindness? The artist considered them to be orange and blue, denoting the colours of the sky and orange glow of the sunshine. A contemporary film of animated smiles moves and interplays upon the drawing surface presenting narratives of how kindness affects us internally. 


She alludes to notions of how simple kind smiles can be contagious, rippling outwards like a pebble in a pond, noting that acts of kindness, given or received, can help to make us feel happier, calmer and healthier – a win-win situation that we could practice more often.