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College of Arts & Sciences
School of Visual Art and Design


Arte Corporis: Exploring the Anatomical Body

Monday, March 7, 2016 - 8:30am to Friday, April 1, 2016 - 4:30pm

Exhibition Reception: March 31st – 5:30pm - 7:30pm

The Arte Corporis: Exploring the Anatomical Body exhibition will showcase anatomically and medically inspired contemporary art including drawing, painting, and ceramics. The artists in the exhibition employ their own connection to the study of medicine and anatomy through a wide range of applications and approaches.

Melissa Gwyn

A painter living in San Francisco and teaching at the University of California Santa Cruz, Associate Professor Melissa Gwyn is represented by Patricia Sweetow Gallery in Oakland. She received her MFA from Yale in 1989. While in New York, she had solo exhibitions at Feigen Contemporary, Stux Gallery and White Columns, as well as the Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin; during that time her work was reviewed in Art Forum, Time Out New York, Village Voice, Art News, and The New York Times.

From her artist statement, Gwyn states: “The subjects of growth, excess and collapse have been central to my work for more than twenty years. Drawing upon the opulence and detail of Netherlandish painting and the sensual materiality of Abstract Expressionism, my work explores an “embarrassment of riches” that is both visual and thematic. Decadence is core to my visual sensibility and my tendency to obsess on detail through the material potential of my medium. I often think of my father’s admonition about taking things too far, “You don’t want to gild the lily.” But, with affection for my father I contend that “gilding the lily” is exactly what makes sense to me in these times. Nature in artifice, artifice in nature, conservation, restoration, death of painting, reanimation and artificial life, it seems a gilded lily is the emblem in the back of my mind”.

Dawn Hunter

Dawn Hunter pursued her undergraduate studies at the Kansas City Art Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art & Music. As a Regents Fellow, she received her MFA from the University of California, Davis where she studied with Robert Arneson, Roy DeForest, and Irit Rogoff. She has participated in numerous solo and multiple artist exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. Additionally, she has also received many awards and grants for her artwork, most notably, a Starr Foundation Fellowship, enabling her to be the first American woman to serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Royal Academy of Art, London.  She is currently an Associate Professor of Art in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

From her artist statement, Hunter states: “My new body of artwork is a series comprised of drawings and painting that are biographically about Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience. I became aware of Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s research and his drawings three years ago while working on neuroscience illustrations for the new edition of Human Neuroanatomy by Dr. James R. Augustine. I was immediately captivated, inspired and intrigued with Cajal’s artistic drawings, his scientific research and his personality (as represented in the autobiography Recollections of My Life.)  Cajal was such a fascinating and multi-talented individual.  After I had read his autobiography, there was a part of me that felt like some key aspects of Cajal, (his humor, and how he imagined himself - particularly during his childhood), were often absent from the mainstream discussions of him and his work.  One day I was lamenting this, and then it occurred to me that as an artist, I could create works that expressed biographical and metaphorical interpretations of his life and his internal world. I was delighted to learn this past spring that an exhibition of Cajal’s drawings was on display at the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD.  Upon viewing the exhibition, I was completely amazed by his drawings.  Cajal’s sensitivity and line quality rival the greatest of artists. To understand his scientific drawings and how they are put together, I have been making regular trips to the NIH so that I can draw the actual works. This process has taken my understanding of Cajal as a person and his drawings to an entirely new level.” On display in McMaster Gallery are several drawings Hunter made at the NIH. 

Lisa Temple-Cox

Lisa Temple-Cox is an artist and independent researcher based at Cuckoo Farm Studios in Colchester, UK. Her current research interests revolve around the aesthetics and symbolism of the medical museum; using its collections, taxonomies, and histories as metaphors for a contemporary subjective experience of the body, in life and death. Her history as a mixed-race, post-colonial child informs a practice exploring interstices: between science and religion, the normal and the pathological, the familiar and the uncanny. These themes are visualized through mixed-media processes, which include drawing, assemblage, and installation. Her studio work is enabled by and intersected within a public arts practice, making artwork for institutions as varied as schools, hospitals, libraries, and public conveniences.

From Temple-Cox’s artist statement: “My interest in medical and natural history museum display and taxonomy is expressed using drawing, collage, and assemblage to explore both the methodology of display and a kind of auto-ethnography: an exploration of the self through the remains of others. The aesthetic of the museum and its exhibits may have psychological effects on its visitors: often containing specimens that cause a simultaneity of attraction and repulsion, provoking reflections of self and identity – one's own, and in relation to the content or context of the museum specimen. It is important to note that all my drawings are done in situ, sometimes remaining unfinished: the process of working from life imbues each image with all the sensory data attendant to its location. Sounds, smells, overheard conversations and bodily sensations enter the drawing alongside the marks of pencil or pen. Drawing blurs the interstice between viewer and object - there is an exchange: art as enactment of the Locard principle. An image is taken: but something of myself is left behind, resonating in the brittle light of the cabinet, the fragile glass of the jar”.

Mallory Wetherell

Mallory Wetherell received her MFA in ceramics from UMass-Dartmouth.  She has been the Gallery Coordinator at The Clay Studio of Philadelphia, a summer artist in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, and a 2015 Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and Head of Ceramics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

From Wetherell’s artist statement: “My work is figurative in nature, but not in the traditional sense of the word.  I am more interested in the interior of human anatomy.  Things, feelings, and relationships come and go.  The one thing we carry with us from birth to death is our physical existence, our most prized possession. Perhaps it is the result of my own medical experiences, where I found myself simultaneously fascinated by and fearful of the body’s complexity.  Perhaps it was growing up in the south, where the façade of religion can be as thick as the accent.  Regardless, I am both intrigued and relieved to know the world, the people, and the relationships within it are not simply black and white. My work is autobiographical, exposing aspects of personal relationships that are not readily apparent.  Each piece is a visual depiction of an internalized relationship that I have with myself, or that I share with those individuals closest to me.  With each piece, I use emotional associations linked to various anatomies of the human body -the gut as a metaphor for raw instinctual emotion, a lung to express the need for air.  I then manipulate these cellular tissues, organs, and overall system structures in order to explore specific and personal relationships.  The finished work is graphic in nature, a combination of sculpted porcelain and detailed underglaze renderings, referencing 18th century medical illustrations and traditional commemorative blue and white ware”.

This visual art exhibition will coincide with the two-day symposium Art, Anatomy, and Medicine since 1700. The symposium is sponsored by the University of South Carolina’s Provost’s Office and the School of Visual Art and Design, in partnership with the Columbia Museum of Art.

The related symposium will showcase scholarly papers that address visual, theoretical, cultural, historical and/or contemporary connections, relationships, conflicts and/or collaborations among the visual arts, anatomy/dissection, and medicine from the eighteenth century to the present. The symposium will be held at the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, March 31st - April 1st, 2016.