2018 Winter Artist-in-Residence

Justus Harris

January – March 2018

Artist-in-Residence Reception and Artist Talk: Thursday, April 12, 2018, 5:30 – 8:30pm

Please join us Thursday, April 12 from 5:30 – 8:30pm for an evening with Winter 2018 Artist-in-Residence, Justus Harris, with special guest, Charlie O’Connell. Free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30pm, with presentations beginning at 6:00pm. Registration required at www.imss.org. Special Fitscript class for people with diabetes at 6:30pm by invitation only. During this thirty minute class the Museum will be open to all guests and refreshments will be provided.

IMSS PR Capstone Image

Chicago-based artist, Justus Harris, transforms medical data and implements DIY technologies in the treatment of his type 1 diabetes.  Through his sculpture and video practice, he creates a sensory language and narratives for communicating beyond what the clinical world provides to patients. In his International Museum of Surgical Science residency, Justus Harris has investigated the Museum’s past as the home of the Diamond Match Company heiress and businesswomen, Eleanor Robinson Countiss. He has used the home to heal his body and has created a speculative rapport with the medical idols featured in the Hall of Immortals through video and 3D sculptures, focusing on the question: “Is the patient who can heal themselves a medical idol?”  Justus Harris’ three months of research and work is culminated in this evening event in partnership with Fitscript LLC. The evening’s events include a presentation by Fitscript CEO and Founder, Charlie O’Connell, a Fitscript class, networking, and Justus Harris’ artist talk.

Justus Harris IMSS headshot

Justus Harris is a patient, artist, and educator based in Chicago. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14, he has since combined his artistic training and patient experiences to found MedSculp, which designs art-based, 3D visual educational tools for people with diabetes and chronic conditions. Justus Harris’ work embodies the Maker and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education principles applied to the experience of living with chronic illness. He was the first Maker in Residence at the Chicago Public Library Maker Lab and has exhibited his work at institutions including the Stanford School of Medicine, the European Commission, and the American Diabetes Association. Justus Harris was recently selected as the Midwest region’s Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow for 2018-2019 and will be introduced at ‘The Future States of America: Using the Arts to Take Us Where We Want to Go’ Summit on April 16, 2018 in Washington D.C.

MedSculp empowers people living with, or at risk for, chronic illness with data driven educational artwork that empowers patients who struggle with traditional medical language to take ownership of their health. The original MedSculp product is the Diabetes Data Sculpture, which transforms thousands of data points from Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) over a one month period into a concise digital visualization that can be viewed digitally or held as a 3D-printed object in the palm of your hand.

Charlie O'Connell Headshot

Charlie O’Connell is the Founder and CEO of Fitscript, LLC., a company dedicated to helping people living with diabetes. Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at Yale New Haven Hospital in the fall of 1996, Charlie is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (’02) where he was a two-sport varsity athlete, as well as a high school All-American in Track and Field. Charlie developed the idea for GlucoseZone from his own need to manage his disease and upon discovering that there were virtually no specific exercise resources available for people living with diabetes. The GlucoseZone program provides an innovative solution to addressing the dangerous complications that can occur when exercising without proper and safe guidance and instruction.


Fitscript LLC, created in 2012, was founded to help people living with diabetes meet the exercise requirement for safely and effectively reducing, reversing and controlling their diabetes. Fitscript’s patented, proprietary GlucoseZone program, now with more than 900,000 users, is the first-ever digital exercise solution for diabetics that helps improve their A1c levels and achieve weight loss based on real-time glucose levels.  The all-new GlucoseZone app contains live and on demand exercise solutions, interactive workouts, diabetes discussions and much more. The app is currently available on iOS and Android. GlucoseZone is the first digital exercise solution that offers exercise guidance based on the user’s real-time glucose levels and other diabetes metrics, including data pulled from wearable devices. The patented GlucoseZone program enables doctors to prescribe exercise programs for diabetics that improve A1C, achieve weight loss and halt the progression of the disease.

GlucoseZone and MedSculp will be featured at the American Diabetes Association’s largest Health & Wellness Expo in the US on Saturday, April 14th at McCormick Place in Chicago. Join a LIVE GlucoseZone workout on the Fitness Stage at 1:30pm ​as we try to set the record for the most people living with diabetes exercising at once,​ ​and stop by the booth for art, education, and fitness!


The International Museum of Surgical Science is proud to present our Winter 2018 Artist-in-Residence: Chicago-based artist Justus Harris.

Justus Harris (US, b. 1990) combines medical data visualization and 3D modeling to understand health trends. His work is inspired by using continuous monitors for his type 1 diabetes. The 3D printed Diabetes Data Sculptures and public health data projects that come from his research have been featured internationally at venues including the Stanford School of Medicine, Theorizing the Web (New York), the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library where he was the inaugural Maker in Residence, and at the European Commission’s Internet of Things exhibit ‘Adaptation’ (Berlin). He is a portfolio reviewer and alumni of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BA, Visual & Critical Studies). Justus has participated in five artificial pancreas research studies and is currently using a DIY artificial pancreas system. He is currently developing his projects at mHUB, Chicago’s premier prototyping innovation center.

Artist-in-Residence Objective



The saws, ocular devices, and prosthetics showcased at the International Museum of Surgical Science express a tangible language of attempts at human healing.  I will synthesize this archive of ‘healing’ objects with my own biological data archive gathered from the monitors I use to treat my medical condition (Type 1 diabetes).

After 3D-scanning select objects that are relevant to my medical condition I will modify them digitally to relate their forms with my own body as well as with my ongoing Diabetes Data Sculptures series. The resulting works will be digital animations and site-specific sculptures. I will position this work in the Hall of Immortals to insert the patient as a  healer in the court of idolized medical figures.

The tools that have healed, mangled, and modified the body are part of the lineage of the high tech pharmaceuticals and medical devices I use as a patient. My time at the Museum is a chance to bridge the past and future of medical philosophy informed by my participation in DIY medical and maker communities, which combine technologies not initially intended to heal.

Artist Statement

My experience living with a chronic illness drives me to utilize all means available to me to understand, heal, and liberate my body.  In treating my type 1 diabetes I use existing technologies and experiment with emerging technologies to regulate and monitor my blood sugar.  My artwork helps me transform my physical condition and share a philosophical outlook that begins where the limits of the current medical paradigm end.

As a research subject in artificial pancreas studies, I observe the disconnect between donating my time to innovation versus benefiting from the experience directly.  Taking surveys, being connected to IVs, and having blood draws every thirty minutes does not provide me a greater understanding of my body.  This is symptomatic of the medical protocol to treat rather than to teach. I developed 3D-printed representations of one month of my continuous glucose levels, which I call Diabetes Data Sculptures.  These tangible representations of biological trends allow me to recall my health over time in a visceral way using the data from the glucose monitor and insulin pump that are always attached to my body.  Building on my personal health based works I utilize public health records in projects such as Chicago Public Data Sculptures and global water pollution records in my digital animation series Fountains, to emphasize the relationship between personal and public health.

Diabetes diminishes and ultimately deadens physical sensation over time through nerve damage. It is the fastest growing disease in the world but the majority of its damage remains hidden inside the body and forgotten. My interest is in developing tools that increase our ability to understand our bodies and integrate the information technology provides us in a memorable and personalized form.

Learn more about Justus Harris’ current work at http://www.justusharris.com/.