Broken Yet Whole

By Artist Tanya Gill

November 10, 2023 – February 11, 2024

Artist Talk: Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 1:00 PM Free

Opening reception: Friday, November 10, 2023 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Free

Mend (Blue) of the Broken Yet Whole Series 
Gifted figurine and yarn, 8 x 3.5 x 3 in, 2022

Photo credit: James Prinz 

The gesture of repair in art is a powerful and moving metaphor for human healing, both physical and emotional. Broken Yet Whole explores mending and all its implications through broken yet mended objects, darning, and painting.  The work speaks to our human optimism and also our failures. A tender attempt to recreate the legs of a broken figurine horse or repair a damaged book demonstrates love and determination. However, in the end, the attempt falls short. Once broken, we/things are never the same. At the same time, becoming broken is inevitable and does not negate wholeness. 

The mended objects in Broken Yet Whole come from different sources. Some are from the IMSS’s collection; others are from the artist’s own life, such as Mend (Horses). Others yet have been gifted or loaned to the project through a call for objects, where individuals are invited to contribute loved yet damaged domestic objects. 

The core catalyst for the work is Gill’s own health. Gill is a stroke survivor, and her first-hand experience of her brain repairing itself profoundly shifted her artistic practice. Gill’s experience with physical trauma and recovery is by no means unique; it is a part of our collective story. We all experience traumatic events that change our course, demanding that we remake ourselves. Gill is invested in visualizing the complexity of healing and what mending the pieces back together might look like. She strives to create a space where we catch glimpses of our ability to mend, transform, and absorb change.

Mend (Legs) of the Broken Yet Whole Series by Tanya Gill
Found figurine, cloth, wood and glue, 2 x 2.5 x 1 in, 2023

Photo credit: James Prinz 
Broken Yet Whole by Tanya Gill
Found figurine and glue, 6 x 4.5 x 4 in, 2023

Photo credit: James Prinz

About the Artist:

Tanya Gill is a multimedia artist and educator whose work explores themes of adaptation, mending, loss, and resilience through object making, painting, drawing, and fiber. Responding to continual transformation in ourselves and our world is at the center of her practice. 

This spring, Gill was the Spring 2023 Artist in Residence at the IMSS. Gill has also been a Fulbright-Nehru scholar, as well as in residence at McDowell, Haystack Mountain School of Craft, and The Ragdale Foundation. Gill calls Northern California, Northern India, and Chicago home. Currently, she is nestled in Chicago, IL, where she maintains a studio at Mana Contemporary.

Learn More:

About the Contemporary Arts Program: The International Museum of Surgical Science supports a commitment to contemporary art and artists through exhibitions and programs that use the frame of contemporary artistic practice to examine new perspectives in medical-surgical science and our relationship to the body. The Museum’s Contemporary Arts Initiative includes rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as an ongoing Artist in Residence program.

This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

This project is supported, in whole or in part, by federal assistance listing number, 21.027 awarded to the International Museum of Surgical Science by the US Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds in the amount of $125,000.00, representing 83% of total project funding.

This project is partially supported by a Chicago Arts Recovery Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

The International Museum of Surgical Science acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.