August 1 – October 17, 2008
Laura Kurtenbach, “Myth Symbol Image”
Geraldine Ondrizek, “Fingerprint DNA: A Portrait of an Arab-American Family”
Both of these artists employ translucent layers to juxtapose cultural tradition and craft with medical science.
|Laura Kurtenbach, Human Nature|
“Myth Symbol Image” consists of digital montages that Kurtenbach creates by superimposing anatomical illustrations on top of Christian iconography from stained glass windows. Her compositions are printed using the Ultrachrome giclée process on plexiglass sheets that evoke the church windows from which the images are derived, at the same time subverting their intended purpose by revealing the “bare bones” of human life—the body’s mortality. She says, “The use of multiple layers creates a world in which the semi-transparent layers of scientific materials obstruct, overlap, and combine with the religious images to create a dichotomy between the two.”
Kurtenbach also adds a layer of handmade marks to the prints, rendering the computer-generated images intimate and personal. Making these marks also serves as a form of catharsis, a process she perceives as “not unlike that of a surgeon, in the sense that a surgeon must cut and potentially scar a patient to heal and restore health to the individual.” Kurtenbach received her MFA in photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2007 and has since lived in Chicago, where her self-portraits will be exhibited in a show opening in mid-August at Morpho Gallery. For more information about the artist and her work, visit www.lkimages.com.
|Geraldine Ondrizek, Fingerprint DNA|
“Fingerprint DNA” comprises the actual DNA fingerprints of four members of Ondrizek’s husband’s Arab-American family, the Qamars, each printed by dye sublimation on a panel of Ultra Sheer fabric. The printed panels are mounted on a loom-like metal structure, which calls to mind the Middle Eastern tradition of rug-making. Ondrizek says, “The art of rug-making has been practiced for centuries in the Arab world, and, like those of genetic material, the patterns are handed down through the generations.” Viewed from the front, the familial identity markers on each panel overlap; from the side, threads connecting each panel are visible, representing literally the characteristics that are shared by members of a family.
However, the work has significance not only through its link to tradition, but also in its relation to the modern cultural climate. The artist says, “Doing DNA testing of an Arab-American family is particularly resonant at this time when the Arabic community is watched closely and viewed with skepticism, both in the United States and worldwide.” Ondrizek has taught at Reed College in Portland since 1994, and her newest installation is currently on display at the CAMAC Art Center in Marnay sur Seine, France. Details about Ondrizek and her work are available at http://academic.reed.edu/art/faculty/ondrizek.
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.