August 3–October 19, 2007
Matthew Cox, “Recovery: Embroidered X-Rays”
Maggie Leininger, “Under the Looking Glass: Examining Natural and Constructed Structures”
Free, public reception for the artists: Friday, August 3, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
These artists juxtapose stitching with medical imaging technologies to investigate the human condition.
|Matthew Cox, Skull with Earrings|
“Recovery,” the title of Cox’s exhibition, is fitting on a number of levels: the works consist of found x-rays that Cox has recovered from hospitals and transformed into artwork by literally re-covering parts of the exposed skeletons with embroidered faces, hair, and clothing, all rendered in a slightly anachronistic Botticelli-esque style. Contrasting the cold, diagnostic quality of the x-rays with the nurturing aspect of hand-stitching, the artist nurses the depicted patients through their recovery from sickness to health. Stitching, says Cox, “acts as care giving or healing to the injured, a socially feminine sort of action, while the x-ray itself can be considered masculine and unemotional.”
Though Cox displays prodigious technical skill in embroidery, his oeuvre also includes portraits “drawn” solely with rubber stamps, as well as critically acclaimed paintings: “As an artist who takes on tedious, labor-intensive projects, I am also reacting to the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art by introducing the process of labor over the quick, slickness of film [in this series].” Born in Texas and currently residing in Philadelphia, Cox is represented in New Orleans by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and in Chicago by Packer Schopf Gallery. For more information about Cox and his work, visit www.jonathanferraragallery.com/cox.html or www.packergallery.com/cox2/cox2.html.
|Maggie Leininger, Specimen (detail)|
“Under the Looking Glass,” Leininger’s exhibition, comprises embellished fabric “specimens” that replicate the microscopic patterns created by disease-causing microbes as they grow, reproduce, and form colonies not unlike those found within human civilizations. These works illustrate parallels between two types of “cultural development”: the naturally occurring cellular processes of bacteria in a Petri dish, and the social engineering of communities within an urban environment. Leininger says, “Groups of cells divide and interact with one another the way many of us interact in daily life, navigating paths and creating or breaking barriers for specific purposes. Cultural development, either within a specific neighborhood or larger cultural unit, is represented by the macrocosm of these smaller pieces.“
Leininger’s use of stitching to render these biological patterns further emphasizes the connection between natural and constructed structures because this medium inevitably evokes human involvement; the artist says, “I am most intrigued with the use of the stitch for creating many pieces, as it is one of the simplest technologies and exemplifies the presence of the hand.” A resident of the Western suburb of Oak Park, Leininger recently exhibited her work at St. Xavier University in Chicago and Lightbox Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.
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.
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.