Normal/Abnormal: Bodies & Minds will display a diverse group of thirty-five images which question the limits of the ordinary and the excesses of the abnormal. The artists represented in the show explore a number of themes, such as fairy tales, amputated Barbie arms, Balinese gods, and robotic limbs. Juror Ann Starr characterizes the exhibition as capable of a dialogue with the viewer about the nature of pain, disfigurement, and trauma. “As I viewed the submissions for the show I was privileged to see work that clearly came from extremely deep sources of human feeling and from a largely unenviable range of experiences. But it is the rare person who can channel those feelings and recollections into works that are both whole and potent.” While most of the items in the show embrace the male or female body as sites for the inscription of the deviant and the aberrant, the corporeality in Normal/Abnormal emerges as a metaphor for an array of extreme physical, mental, and psychological states, ranging from entrapment to insanity. To enhance the sensation of strangeness or abnormality, the exhibition features a variety of sometimes non-traditional media, including nail polish, rubber, Styrofoam, and polyester resin. Ann Porter’s cast hydrocal sculpture Babydog #1 offers the viewer an unsettling hybridity between dog and baby, what Porter declares occupies a “borderland, a middle ground between species.” Likewise, Ann Rowles’ multimedia sculpture Clipped seeks to provoke unease in the viewer. Rowles states: “My sculpture contends that a contemporary person wears her or his body as a decorative object separate from the self.” Indeed, Rowles graphically presents the gory underside of cosmetic surgery. Reminiscent of a variety of different body parts, including a torso, a finger, and a penis, the sculptures evoke a flayed and hanging carcass subjected to the cruelties of a number of scissors. Adrienne Noelle Werge’s chromogenic print The Princess and the Pea appropriates the signifiers of fashion photography and of fairy tales in order to explore the fluid boundaries between the beautiful and the horrific, the ideal and the anorexic. In Werge’s words: “Utilizing the same devices as modern pop culture, the work exploits the dark side of desire, and reveals unabashedly the sacrifices many make in order to be desirable.”
The Normal/Abnormal: Bodies & Minds Show Features The Following Artists: Joanna Amberger (IL), Laurie Blakeslee (ID), Wanrudee Buranakorn (OH), Christine Burgoyne (WA), Renee Hagen (CA), Georgia Henkel (KY), Petra Kralickova (MA), Julie Kramer (NY), Sonja Kruitwagen (IL), Margaux Lange (CO), Jason Lazarus (IL), Adriane Little (NY), Daphne Loney (LA), Jude Martin (IL), Emily Martinez (FL), Maureen McCarron (NY), Elizabeth Norton (NC), Jana Perez (TX), Ann Porter (ID), Jenny Price (WI), Goro Rapoport (IL), Meredith Rose (VT), Sarah Rovenko (AL), Ann Rowles (GA), Sarah Saczynski (FL), Richard Smith (IL), Carol Thorne (IL), Cindy Trawinski (IL) and Adrienne Noelle Werge (RI)
Ann Starr, currently of Gambier, Ohio, works in books, drawings, and painting. She is also an independent scholar, relating the subjects of her visual work to the history of medicine. She has lectured about her images of human deformity and mental illness to audiences at the Yale University Medical School, the National Portrait Gallery (London), the Wellcome Institute Unit for the History of Medicine at University College London, and the History and Philosophy of Science Department at Cambridge University. Ann Starr currently has three books in the annual artists’ book show, Temptations, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She teaches content-based art courses at the Northwestern University Medical School.
(Banner image: artwork by Georgia Henkel)