CAVE: Art and neuroscience meet at Holter Museum

Interactive exhibit merges the “mind” of 35,000-year-old cave art with state-of-the-art brain research

Art Beat

CAVE, a collaborative art-science project created by Montana State University faculty, opens 5-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at the Holter Museum of Art in Helena. Its creators, The NeuroCave Collaborative, will be on hand for the opening.

CAVE is a collaboration between artist Sara Mast, who teaches at MSU, and an interdisciplinary team that includes neuroscientist John Miller, architect Jessica Jellison, digital fabricator Bill Clinton, composers Linda Antas and Jason Bolte, computer scientists David Millan and Brittany Fasy, digital artist Barry Anderson, music technologist Chris Huvaere, and photographer Zach Hoffman. “CAVE” continues through December.

According to its creators, CAVE merges the “mind” of 35,000-year-old cave art with state-of-the-art brain research. An interdisciplinary research team composed of faculty and student artists and scientists from Montana State University and the University of Missouri, Kansas City, has created this truly interactive installation in which light and sound elements are controlled by participant brainwaves.

Using current neuro-feedback technology, participants’ physiological responses to their surrounding environment simultaneously inform the environment, projecting fluctuating sound and color fields that blur the perceptual boundaries between sensation and creation.

Evoking the deeply spiritual and communal nature of early artistic sites such as the Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc cave in France, the installation echoes cultural memory and bridges the origins of art with the latest advances in neuroscience.

The cutting-edge exhibition aims “to spark meaningful dialogue about the deep, natural interconnectivity found across intellectual disciplines and human creativity.”

“Two Painters Talking”

"Two Painters Talking"
Sara Mast and Lisa Pressman collaborate in “Two Painters Talking.”Photo © Holter Museum of Art

Also opening Aug. 18 is a joint exhibit by Bozeman artist Mast and Lisa Pressman of New Jersey, “Two Painters Talking.” The two artists became close friends and colleagues in 2008, when they were both included in the invitational exhibition, “New Talent,” at Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. They maintain a close personal and professional relationship, and do painting workshops together in Bozeman and at Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro, MA.

Each time that Mast and Pressman see one another, they work on paintings together. They communicate in a visual dialogue that is a delight not only for the two of them, but is often engaging for their students or the workshop participants who witness the “conversation.”

The exhibit marks the first time that Mast and Pressman have set out to create a visual discourse sustained over time and space. It’s inspired by research that shows that handprints in eight cave sites in France and Spain were mostly left by women. The two artists took the imagined experience of making that first mark on the cave wall to create a shared embodiment of the origin of painting and the “voice” that echoed back.

“Two Painters Talking” closes Oct. 27.

For more information, call 406-442-4600 or visit