The Art of Alzheimer’s

A gallery of artwork by Dr. Peter J. Snyder

“Purkinje Cell Vessel I” (2013). Photo credit: Aaron Usher III

At first glance, this spalted maple vessel might inspire visions of potted ivy or flowering white jasmine. But upon closer examination, you’ll find more than artistry in its pyrographic lines. The vessel, handcrafted by neuropsychologist and woodworker Peter Snyder, pays homage to a cell line that is particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease — Snyder’s primary focus of research. Titled “Purkinje Cell Vessel I,” the sculpture was inspired by a pen-and-ink drawing from 1899 by pathologist and artist, Santiago Ramon y Cajal. “Ramon y Cajal has always been an inspirational figure in the history of the neurosciences to me,” says Snyder, who serves as scholar-in-residence at the Rhode Island School of Design and, in 2015, was named one of Rhode Island Monthly’s Rhode Islanders of the Year. “He clearly recognized the deep connection between art and science, and he relied on his visual interpretations of his microscopic work to inform his own thinking and understanding of the biology of his subject matter.”