TMA exhibit focuses on the impact of diseaseWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Disease is less glamorous than previous Toledo Museum of Art themes, but the exhibit “What’s Wrong with Me? Art and Disease” is as powerful as any to date. Art history students at the University of Toledo serve as curators for the exhibit, which opens April 22 in the Hitchcock Gallery at TMA.
“Artists through time have covered the human condition, and disease is part of that,” said Teri Sharp, public relations manager at TMA. “There are a number of pieces in our collection that deal with disease and illness.”
The class is part of a continuing collaboration between UT and the museum. Students work with personnel to gain hands-on training in the design of art exhibitions. Each semester the class features a new theme.
“Some of the students have taken the class previously,” Sharp said. “They liked it so well and felt they learned so much they wanted to take it again with a different theme.”
The exhibit opens April 22, but it will continue to progress throughout the semester.
“It is going to be an installation in progress,” Sharp said. “When it opens on April 22, most of the prints will be up, but not all of the signage and labels are there. Students have through the end of the semester to finish their work, so if you come back you will see more notes about the objects as it progresses.”
According to a press release, the three themes featured in the art are “disease is part of life; isolation and social stigma have accompanied various diseases at different times in human history; and disease can inspire hope, faith and compassion for one another.”
“What the students learned in looking at various prints for the show, they found the Good Samaritan theme,” Sharp said. “When others are ill it does bring out the best in us, the compassion of humanity, and that is illustrated in the works.”
Along with finding the Good Samaritan theme, students found an 1861 print called “The Good Samaritan” by French artist Rodolphe Bresdin.
Sharp said she was particularly moved by the piece “Krieg (War): The Parents” by German artist Käthe Kollwitz.
“She’s an artist who lost two sons in World War I,” Sharp said. “The couple is obviously deep in grief. It is so powerful to look at. It’s quite moving.”
The woodcut by Kollwitz is one of 30 pieces the students selected from the museum’s collection. The students also selected one work from outside the collection — the 13-minute video “A Fire in My Belly” by David Wojnarowicz. The film explores the inevitability of death and Wojnarowicz’s battle with AIDS.
“We were approached by the class to make an exception, because typically we only use art from the museum’s collection,” Sharp said. “We asked them to make a curatorial case why they thought the video should be part of the exhibit. They made a compelling case in terms of the video being related to the theme. The video is on loan (from the PPOW Gallery in New York) just for this exhibition.”
The video and many works in the exhibit feature disturbing imagery, so viewer discretion is advised.
“There will be a disclaimer about disturbing imagery,” Sharp said.
The free exhibit runs through August 7. The Toledo Museum of Art is located at 2445 Monroe St.
Tags: Toledo Museum of Art