November 4, 2005 - January 20, 2006
Alice Leora Briggs, “Graft”
Leigh Anne Lester, “Family Portraits”
Concurrent exhibitions of drawings by Alice Leora Briggs and embroideries and paintings by Leigh Anne Lester will be on display at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago from November 4, 2005 to January 20, 2006.
Alice Leora Briggs's exhibition, “Graft,” features drawings of medical procedures from various historical eras, some amazing, others more horrific than the maladies they were intended to cure. As she says, “Over the centuries science has employed methods to assuage human afflictions that are at once enthralling, frightening, and miraculous. My drawings are efforts to comprehend and depict aspects of an astonishing array of medical procedures that have alternately supported and threatened our well-being.” Briggs herself assumes the role of a surgeon while drawing in that she transplants and grafts parts of images from disparate sources, including historical medical illustrations and photographs, to create her body of work. Based in Lubbock, Texas, Briggs is represented by Nüart Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has shown her work across the country.
In her exhibition of embroideries and paintings entitled “Family Portraits,” Leigh Anne Lester focuses on a different kind of medical history—the genetic inheritance passed down through the generations of a family. The embroideries play on traditional portraits by depicting family members' afflicted organs, rather than their faces, suggesting that genetic relations do not only run skin-deep. The paintings Lester creates by matching colors from microscopic images of diseased cells to swatches of household paints; she says, “These pieces are investigating the idea of living with a disease, having it inhabit your body, but turning that experience around and living in the setting or the atmosphere of the disease by having it be a color that you would paint a room in your house.” Lester co-curates the gallery Cactus Bra Space in San Antonio, Texas, and has exhibited throughout the Southwest and Midwest.
These exhibitions are the latest in the museum's “Anatomy in the Gallery” series, which showcases contemporary art with medical themes.
Artists from Leonardo da Vinci to William Hogarth have studied anatomy in order to represent the body from all angles, examining atlases of anatomical prints, wax cadavers, and dissected bodies. Now many contemporary artists are reinvestigating the subject from a modern perspective, and the museum exhibits their work within the context of its permanent collection—including a number of paintings, drawings, and sculptures in addition to surgical instruments—as part of 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.
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