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November 6, 2009 - February 19, 2010
Carol Chase Bjerke, “HIDDEN AGENDA: ARTiculating the Unspeakable”
Masako Onodera, “The Way of the Flesh”

Free, public reception: Friday, November 6, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Carol Chase Bjerke, Recognition, aka Our Lady of Perpetual Defecation

“Hidden Agenda” comprises an intensely personal sculptural installation about living with an altered body in the aftermath of an ostomy (a surgical reconfiguration of the intestine to create a stoma, or surgical opening in the abdomen through which body wastes pass), which remains a relatively common treatment for colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases despite its crudeness. Bjerke’s poignant and darkly comic sculptures, visually inspired by the aesthetic qualities of medical supplies for people with ostomies, emphasize the relentless repetition and inconvenience of life after this procedure while investigating issues of self-image, privacy, the reluctance to talk about such things, and the simultaneous need to talk about such things. The dominant color of the installation is red—according to the artist, “the color of the inside of the intestine, and therefore of the stoma, a color that calls attention to a situation, the color of rage and also of celebration, because ‘Hidden Agenda’ is a powerful tool for raising awareness about an otherwise unspeakable topic.” Bjerke currently lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin. Her book Hidden Agenda (Borderland Books, 2008) will be available for purchase in the Museum store throughout the exhibition, which is supported in part by the Feminist Art Project. More information about Bjerke and her work is available at: www.carolchasebjerke.com.

Masako Onodera, Appendage

“The Way of the Flesh” showcases Onodera’s highly evocative appendage sculptures made of materials including fiber, latex, and lacquered animal skin. The works are grotesque and suggestive of decay, but also oddly transfixing, echoing the human ambivalence—repulsion in an uneasy balance with aesthetic fascination—toward the body as an organic object. Three main colors harmonize in this exhibition: pink, which is associated with flesh, femininity, youth, sex, and fantasy; translucent white, which conveys purity and beautification; and earthy brown, which calls to mind rot and decay. The artist says, “My work is an apparatus to awaken viewers to their own bodies and evanescent life.” Onodera received her MFA in metalworking from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and currently teaches at Bowling Green University in Ohio. In 2008, her work was featured in the "Pulse of a Perfect Heart Show" at I Space Gallery in Chicago. Further details about Onodera and her work can be found at: http://web.mac.com/masakoonodera.

These exhibitions are the latest in the Museum’s “Anatomy in the Gallery” series, which has showcased medically themed contemporary art in quarterly paired exhibitions since 1998. The Museum exhibits this artwork along with thousands of historical artifacts from its permanent collection, including surgical instruments as well as a number of paintings, drawings, and sculptures, in accordance with its mission: to enrich the lives of its visitors by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of medicine.

To learn more about “Anatomy in the Gallery,” please visit the program’s MySpace page.



This project is partially sponsored by a CityArts Program 2 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


1524 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60610 USA
fax 312.642.9516


Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10 am to 4 pm
Wednesday: 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday: 10 am to 4 pm
Friday: 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

Last admission will be taken one hour before the closing time.