LAWRENCE —The Spencer Museum of Art will reopen to the public Feb. 20 with two new exhibitions that explore the human body throughout history and across cultures.
Public gallery hours will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Visitors can make a free reservation to explore the galleries, which will have reduced capacity in accordance with public health and safety guidelines.
“Healing, Knowing, Seeing the Body” includes works ranging from ancient to contemporary that demonstrate how understandings of the body and its many complexities have changed over time. The exhibition includes two sound sculptures by Canadian artist Ingrid Bachmann titled “Embrace.” Bachmann’s work is a site-specific installation intended to help viewers calm and center their bodies.
“The Aorta of an Archivist,” an immersive sound and video installation by Houston-based artist Dario Robleto, explores three “firsts” in the history of recording: the first time live music was recorded, the first time brain waves were recorded in a dream state, and the first time a pulse was recorded while the subject listened to music. Robleto’s work humanizes abstract data and prompts viewers to consider what we can and can’t know about our bodies.
Curator Cassandra Mesick Braun said that, together, these two exhibitions examine the tensions between the universality of having a body and the individuality of everyday experience.
“Both of these exhibitions explore how artists can forge connection and community through the works of art they create, which seems particularly relevant during this time of heightened awareness of public health and physical isolation,” Mesick Braun said.
The Spencer Museum commissioned works by Robleto and Bachmann because of their backgrounds collaborating with medical professionals and scholars in other disciplines. Although these projects were planned before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mesick Braun said the current global health crisis informed their work in interesting and unexpected ways.
“Both of these artists work at the intersection of art and medicine, and a goal for these shows was to demonstrate the way that artistic practice can contribute to research and dialogue about health and the human body,” Mesick Braun said.
The public can experience both exhibitions beginning Saturday, along with the rest of the Spencer Museum’s permanent collection galleries. Visitors are highly encouraged to make advance reservations as well as review the museum’s health and safety guidelines. For questions or assistance making a reservation, please contact the Spencer Museum of Art at 785-864-4710.
“Healing, Knowing, Seeing the Body” and “The Aorta of An Archivist” are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the International Artist-in-Residence Fund, the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund, Anne and Charles Rhoades, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, KU Student Senate, KU Research Investment Council, Spencer Museum of Art Marilyn Stokstad Directorship Fund, Olin K. and Mary Ruth Petefish Museum of Art Fund, Mary P. Lipman Children’s Education Fund, the Judith M. Cooke Native American Art Fund, and the Friends of the Art Museum. Ingrid Bachmann received individual support from Canada Council for the commission “Embrace.”
Top image: Dylan Mortimer, “The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us,” 2018, courtesy of the artist.
Right image: Mary Anne Jordan and Andrew Carnie, “untitled,” 2020, courtesy of Andrew Carnie.