DATE: Friday, June 3, 2011
TIME: 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
VENUE: Galapagos Art Space
MODERATOR: Stuart Firestein
PARTICIPANTS: Andrew Dawson, Adam Cole, Kodi Azari

Through both art and science, explore the remarkable connection between mind, brain, and body. Based on his collaboration with neurophysiologist Jonathan Cole, performance artist Andrew Dawson presents The Articulate Hand, a media-rich, on-stage portrayal of patients whose peculiar impairments—physiological and neurological—provide stunning insights into just how we humans are wired, and how adaptable that wiring may be. Dawson and Cole will be joined in a post-performance conversation by plastic surgeon Kodi Azari, whose groundbreaking work with hand transplant patients offers complementary insights into how the brain copes with dramatic and traumatic bodily changes. Please note new starting time of 8 PM.

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Stuart Firestein is the chair of Columbia University’s department of biological sciences where, along with his colleagues, he studies the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet. Aside from its molecular detection capabilities, the olfactory system serves as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of signaling and perception in the brain.

Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Firestein serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the public understanding of science. He received the Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. He is a fellow of the AAAS. Recently he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for science writing. His book on the workings of science for a general audience called Ignorance, How it Drives Science was released in 2012.


Performance Artist

Andrew Dawson is a theatre director, performer, Feldenkrais practitioner, and hand model. He studied dance with Merce Cunningham in New York and theatre in Paris with Phillipe Gaulier, Monika Pagneux, and Jacques Lecoq. Dawson created and performs, “Space Panorama” (1987) the story of the Apollo 11 moon landing told with only his hands, “Quatre Mains” (1998) which was revived for a season at UCLA, Los Angeles in Dec 2008, and his award winning solo show “Absence and Presence” (2005) performing at PS 122 in New York, which is a deeply intimate and touching portrayal on the death of his father. He also created and directed the stage show of “Wallace and Gromit” (1995),”Amnesia Curiosa” for Rainpan 43 (2008 Studio Theatre Washington DC) and fabrik Potsdam’s award winning “Pandora 88.”(2003). He directed and co devised “The Idiot Colony” with Redcape Theatre Company, which won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival 2008. That year also saw him make his choreographic debut at the New York MET with “Dr. Atomic” an opera by John Adams. The production was subsequently presented in London at the English National Opera in February 2009. In 2010 he choreographed ‘The Pearl Fishers’ also for English National Opera. This summer he will be in St Petersburg, Russia choreographing the opera ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ for the Mariinsky Theatre.

In 2005 he was awarded a research grant from the Wellcome Trust. “The Process of Portrayal” explored neurological impairment through motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury. In 2010 He was awarded a subsequent Arts award from The Wellcome Trust to create “The Articulate Hand.”

His interest in movement led him to study the Feldenkrais Method and he became a practitioner in 1994.


A YouTube sensation with his video hit, “A Biologist’s Mother’s Day Song,” Adam Cole is a soon-to-be-unemployed college student born and raised in Oregon. He has studied everything from snake pheromones to intertidal biomechanics to genes involved with adenocarcinomas.

When he is not embroiled in doomed experiments, Cole plays the mandolin with his bluegrass band, Nimbleweed. If you know of any way he can get health benefits, let him know.


Kodi Azari, MD, FACS is an internationally known plastic surgeon and hand surgeon. His clinical areas of interest include hand, microvascular, peripheral nerve surgery, and hand transplantation. Azari has the distinct professional honor of being one of the lead surgeons on five hand transplant operations, including the first double-hand transplantation, the first arm transplantation performed in the United States, and the first-hand transplantation in the Western United States. Azari is an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is the director of the Hand Transplantation Program. He is the author of over 50 scientific articles and book chapters and lectures extensively both nationally and internationally on hand surgery.