Beacon Gallery has the unique opportunity to meet and work with a range of artists, partners and members of the wider art community. Beacon Gallery Connections allows us to take a closer look at their personal journey, and get a better understanding of their relationship to art.

Dr. Joel Salinas to speak at Beacon Gallery

Beacon Gallery’s current show, “Synaesthesia: Abstract Art & Creative Writing” sought out writers who could create pieces of poetry or prose in response to the abstract paintings being shown.

You may find it interesting to know that one of the writers featured in the show has a form of synaesthesia. Dr. Joel Salinas is very active in expressing what living with this neurological condition has been like. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Synesthesia is defined as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by simulation of another sense or part of the body.”

Dr. Salinas is a neurologist at Harvard University Medical School and at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology. He specializes in brain health, focusing on neuropsychiatry and cognitive behavioral neurology. Living with synaesthesia inspired his career in the medical field.

Dr. Salinas’s form of synesthesia is known as Mirror Touch Synaesthesia (MTS), through which he physically feels what the people around him physically feel. For example, if you were to touch your cheek, Dr. Salinas would, in response, involuntarily feel a “phantom hand” running down his own cheek. If you were to get slapped on the face, Dr. Salinas, too, would feel as if he had just been slapped on his face.

Living with MTS has helped Dr. Salinas’s practice as a neurologist. For example, while taking care of a patient with Cerebral palsy, she began to fight and kick. She was unable to verbally express what was bothering her, and the team was trying to figure out what was wrong. Suddenly, Dr. Salinas felt a pain in his lungs. Because of his synaesthesia, the team was able to discover blood clots forming in the patient’s lungs; the root cause of her extreme discomfort.

Dr. Salinas is very involved in spreading awareness of his form of synaesthesia. He has appeared on the TedX series, giving a brilliant talk titled “We’re All Weird And That’s Normal”. He has also appeared on NBC’s Megyn Kelly’s series: “Making Sense” where she explores the many ways our bodies utilize their senses. Dr. Salinas also appeared on Fox News Digital’s “Health Talk” with Dr. Manny Alvarez, where Salinas explains what it was like to witness a patient dying for the first time.

In addition to giving informative talks, Dr. Salinas has also published a book titled “Mirror Touch: A memoir of synesthesia and the secret life of the brain”. You can purchase his book here.

Come to Beacon Gallery’s “Synaesthesia Salon” this Friday, July 27th to meet Dr. Salinas and listen to his talk! Other featured writers will be present as well. Come for an enjoyable night of abstract art and live performances! Doors open at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!





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