August 4-October 20, 2006
Leslie A. Speicher, "Face to Face"
Lauren Niimi, "Evidence"
Concurrent exhibitions of a mixed media installation by Leslie A. Speicher and two-dimensional photographic and fiber-based works by Lauren Niimi will be on display at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago from August 4 to October 20, 2006. The public is invited to attend a free reception for the artists on Friday, August 4, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
These artists both survey the geography of their own bodies, but they do so from opposite sides of the skin.
In her exhibition, entitled "Face to Face," Leslie A. Speicher deconstructs her body into its essential parts to examine its life functions and their inevitable cessation. She assembled this installation of "self-portraits" from microscopic images of her blood cells and MRI torso and brain scans produced in collaboration with medical imaging specialists. "I was seduced by the data that these scanning and microscopic machines provided," she says, "There was a visual pleasure for me in this inquiry." "Face to Face" continues the investigation of the body's internal landscape that Speicher began in earlier works, including the installation Endoderm No. 2 at Art Basel Miami, for which she covered the interior of a room with giant foam "cells" to give viewers the impression of walking through an oversized organ. "Whether using current technology to create a replica of my lungs or 'turning myself inside out' by wearing a dress with a pattern of my blood cells on it, my ultimate challenge has been to entice others into questioning the mental and physical aspects of being human," she declares. Speicher is currently based in Cleveland.
"Evidence," Lauren Niimi's exhibition, focuses on the external terrain of the artist's body. Her photographic works depict landmarks that medical procedures have mapped on her skin--X's that mark the spots where needles and scalpels broke ground. She explains, "The human body captures stories, experiences, memories, and time through its markings--scars, bruises, and incisions--sometimes in an aggressive and painful way, and sometimes with eloquence and reserve." In her fiber-based works, Niimi evokes the idea of a second skin; she juxtaposes materials such as gauze and band-aids, used to cover and protect open wounds from outside elements, with images and text clipped from tabloids, publications that routinely expose the bodies and private lives of celebrities to the public eye. "My process is one of preserving and mapping a particular understanding of the human body: its accomplishments, failures, capabilities, and limitations," she says. Originally from Highland Park, Niimi now resides in Chicago, where her work has been exhibited at the Rehab Institute and Woman Made Gallery, among other spaces.
These exhibitions are the latest in the museum's "Anatomy in the Gallery" series, which showcases medically themed contemporary art.
Artists from Leonardo da Vinci to William Hogarth studied anatomy in order to represent the body from all angles, and now many contemporary artists are examining the subject from a modern perspective. The museum exhibits their work 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.