Multiplying like bacteria, the crowd attending the exhibit opening of "SICK" did nothing other than grow bigger and bigger and bigger Saturday evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Taking art to a rarely ventured plane, "SICK" focuses on man's vulnerability to illness. Each piece created specifically for the exhibit held at Root Division, portrays some aspect of this notion whether it is infection, treatment, medicine or healing.
"By asking many different artists who work in a variety of media, we felt certain that we would get wide response and interpretation of the theme 'sick,'" Sarah Stolar, one of three exhibit curators, said. "It was also important for all of us that the work in the show to be new (2009-2010) in order to best communicate the current importance and impact health care and illness has on contemporary society," she said.
Guests were immersed within a world of medical art the moment they walked through the little door on 17th Street. Greeting them, stood a hand carved, palm-sized person cast entirely from soap and a bowl of water where patrons were invited to wash their hands.
Although only a few other pieces were quite as hands-on, some works inherently demanded interaction with the audience. A slideshow entitled "Emisis," the medical term for vomiting, projected images of people doing just that, as well as crying and defecating to rid themselves of unwanted agents into a cleverly placed toilet standing against the wall.
"It's not just about how we house things in our body, but it's about how we manifest things in our mind," said Jaren Bonillo, an artist using the concept of the associations between body, mind and home, what she calls, domestic space. "It's a metaphor to get rid of things emotionally, physically and mentally."
Bonillo uses "familiar objects and experiences" and takes them further to push the viewer's interaction and consciousness to a new level.
"It makes you feel things and remember things," Jen Faith said after seeing "Emisis."
Other pieces in the exhibit were more focused on portraying a specific concept or idea, like Kathleen Quillian's animation entitled "Wasteland."
"It's about how our food supply is keeping up with our population but not our health, it's more concerned about cheap products than healthy products," Quillian said. "My animation is showing the farm to table to field."
Throughout the photographs of prescription drugs and installations about mental health and ailments afflicting the common person, the thirteen artists made sure the art was easily approachable.
"I'm not very art educated but this all seems very accessible and I've enjoyed it," Nathan Halverson, one patron said.
Running for three weeks "SICK" gives the student, amateur artist or art connoisseur something new to think about.