Fractures and Dislocations: “Excavating Histories” Group Exhibition

Exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science

May 2 – May 30, 2014

CHICAGO, April 30, 2014—The International Museum of Surgical Science (IMSS) is pleased to present FRACTURES AND DISLOCATIONS, an exhibition of historically inspired site-specific artistic interventions, from May 2 through May 30, 2014. Opening with a free, public reception from 6:00 to
9:00 pm on Friday, May 2, the exhibition features work created by ten graduate and undergraduate students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as the culmination of the Spring 2014 “Excavating Histories” course, as well as a new piece by the class’s professor, Rebecca Keller, a
Chicago sculptor and writer. “Excavating Histories” explores the role of the artist as critical historian, researcher, interpreter, and narrator, providing students the opportunity to develop and display artworks generated from research into a specific historic site. For the FRACTURES AND DISLOCATIONS exhibition at IMSS, class members have investigated the past and present of medicine and the Museum in a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, video, and performance.

Participating Artists:

Elizabeth Housewright’s piece constitutes documentation of a dinner discussion re-envisioning the original nominating banquet held in 1953 to determine the 12 figures from medical history most deserving of commemoration in the Museum’s Hall of Immortals. In this recreation, medical practitioners and historians elect the Immortals of 21st -century medicine.

● In the Museum’s exhibit about genetics and recombinant DNA, Professor Rebecca Keller employs the quasi-magical substances of honey (which never spoils) and beeswax (infinitely malleable) to comment on the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.

H. Eliz Koch’s background as a creator of materials for the visually-impaired influenced her installation Muybridge in Motion & the Sight Unseen. Eadweard Muybridge’s famous 1878 photograph The Horse in Motion, a breakthrough in the understanding of movement, inspired Koch to create parallels for the senses of sound and touch.

Mia Maloney explores historical cases of unethical medical experimentation on humans by reworking original postcards from relevant hospitals and universities to illuminate the darker practices their walls concealed.

● In the Museum’s Hall of Murals, Tannaz Motevalli’s Of Human Evolution references the hidden roots of some of the greatest advances in medicine. Soft Chicken Flesh makes use of silk—a material renowned for its elegance—to illustrate the tainted beauty behind early attempts at culturing tissues and organs.

Claire Ritchie’s work harks back to the popular medicine shows of the 19th century, which peddled “miracle cures” for ailments ranging from wrinkles to migraines to mortality.

Lindsey Smith’s mixed-media piece Mal de Ojo uses eggs, acrylic paint, and beads to address the symbolism and ritual associated with the traditional Latino cure for the “evil eye” – a malevolent look said to cause pain, injury, and bad luck.

● Displayed in the Hall of Immortals, prints of appropriated imagery on vellum banners by Sidney Tilghman comment on popular culture representations of medicine, surgery, and doctors.

Jennifer Urbanek’s Exquisite Embryos explores Ernst Haeckel’s famous drawings of embryos in the earliest stages of development. Reminiscent of x-rays, these images illustrate the once widely accepted scientific theory of common descent, placing evolution into a historical context.

Bria Williams’ piece takes its cue from an ancient Egyptian relief in the Museum’s collection depicting circumcision to examine contemporary rites of passage for young men.

● In her work focusing on IMSS’s bust of famed wrestler Maurice Tillet, “The French Angel,” who developed acromegaly in early adulthood, Molly Wilmes was inspired by both the beauty of Maurice’s strange and super-human anatomy and the legends surrounding his mysterious life. In addition, her Pathogens series of cell-like sculptures draws on her practice as holistic healer.