Sunday, January 21, 2018

New project in development, Part 1

This past fall I discovered McGill University's Maude Abbott Medical Museum, a collection that came to be organized around the turn of the 20th century. It is named for Dr. Maude Abbott, who was appointed curator in 1899, though some of the specimens date back to 1822.

One of the projects of the museum is to explore the intersection of art and medical science, and so I approached the museum director, Dr. Richard Fraser, about the possibility of our six-member textile art group, Text'art, undertaking to make an exhibit inspired by the collection. The idea was embraced by all the participants and the show is scheduled to open in mid-May this year.

At our preliminary meeting, the museum was undergoing renovations, but we were still able to see some material from the collection. One of the items that caught my eye was this book illustration on display in a vitrine.

Something about the way the instruments all lined up appealed to me, with their various shapes a contrast of curved and straight. A few days later I saw this cover of a hardware catalog and considered the possibilities.

On a subsequent visit, I took photos of surgical instruments in the collection. Here are a few:

photo from surgical textbook




scissors, needle drivers


Other members of the group have chosen other topics, including medicinal plants, the human spine, and the jars and bottles holding the "wet specimens".

Here are some of the decisions involved in putting the show together:
  • Where will the work be displayed?
  • How much wall space is available?
  • What hanging hardware will be used?
  • Should there be some consistency between the individual pieces? (We've decided we will all work in a 36 x 24 format, and mount our work on gallery-style canvas.)
Because a printed booklet will be produced by the museum to accompany the show, we must provide
  • individual biographies
  • individual artist statements
  • a history of the group
  • an artist statement and title for the project
  • a group photo
  • photos of the individual artists
  • photos of the individual pieces, with their titles
Written material will be translated into French, and all must be submitted by April 1.

The vitrine cases and tables in the display space will be filled with items from the collection that inspired our individual pieces. Dr. Fraser and his assistant, Joan O'Malley, will be responsible for this, working with the staff at the William Osler Library, where the work will be displayed.

In an upcoming post I will explore some of the techniques I am considering for my piece.


Linda B. said...

What an exciting venture for the group - I look forward to reading more!

Heather Dubreuil said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Linda. The group meets in a few days for a progress report. I think some of the projects are almost completed, but for me it's all still in the planning stage.