Rochester Art Center presents Bio Terrains an exhibition of multimedia installations and sculptures by Minneapolis-based artist Jane Powers.
Through the use of metaphors and symbolism, the artworks featured in this show embody Powers' research on biomedical developments in tissue engineering and xenotransplantation.
Powers' extended practices investigates the tensions between creation and destruction within our societal structures and institutions: “Two main themes continue in my work. One focus is examining the impulses for and consequences of gun violence and war. A second looks into aspects of the rapidly advancing biomedical field. I am interested in the incongruity of some institutions advancing innovative ways to heal and augment our bodies, while at the same time, others are developing sophisticated weapons that are extremely injurious to soldiers and civilians” write the artist in her statement.
Bio Terrains exemplifies this tension by including artworks such as the mixed media sculpture Twins, 2022 or the multimedia installation Who receives?, 2023. With a distinct aesthetic, reminiscent of sci-fi literature and cinema, these artworks question the ethics of science and of human survival strategies. They insert themselves into a historical dialogue between natural versus artificial. For example, due to the increasing demand of organ replacements, medical research is currently exploring how to create replacement organs. “I am fascinated by the use of stem cells for repairing damaged organs (..) including the experimental modification of pigs with human DNA in order to reduce tissue rejections.”
Powers' artistic research delves into complex questions, such as: what technologies do we invest in, on a societal level? How are innovations selected and by who? Who will be able to access and benefit from this research? And what are the ramifications of bypassing our inherited genetic code? In the artist's words: “We use medical procedures beyond repairing and healing. Tattooing and plastic surgeries are routinely used by many individuals to revise their appearance. In the future, some individuals may decide to evolve their biology to grow gills in addition to lungs.” As you experience this exhibition, we encourage you to consider the philosophical issues behind scientific progress: for example, does raising human stem cell-injected animals for replacement body tissue and organs create ethical issues that differ from farming animals for food and hides? As you walk through the Cityview gallery and look through the window towards Downtown Rochester and Mayo Clinic hospital, consider the tangible presence of these discourses and their connection with our past, present and future.
About the Artist:
Jane Powers is a mixed media sculptor and participatory public artist. Her early interest in sociology/psychology, connections within the medical field and volunteer work with community groups fuels her practice of exploring social-political issues. Powers works with porcelain, metal, rubber, resin, lab glassware, as well as. embedded video and electronics. Using a range of media offers her the ability to juxtapose and layer elements to create more complex visual dialogues.
Powers graduated in 1998 with a Master in Fine Arts and focus on sculpture from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is the recipient of several State Arts Board grants, one MRAC Next Step grant and one Forecast R&D grant. Her work has beenexhibited locally and nationally in solo and group exhibitions. Through collaboration with other artists, she has brought her interest in addressing various social-political issues to public spaces in the Twin Cities.
Image: X-Skel, 2015, mixed media (cast aluminum, flocking), 24”x18”x8"
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