“My art practice has centered on long-standing interests related to the human body as a site of fragility, mortality, beauty and memory. Of specific interest to me is how our bodies have, and continue to be, subjected to the regimes of medical practice, knowledge and preservation.
Considering the cultural and material history of anatomy and medicine, and blending these with sculptures, is a rich territory for my art practice. Inspired by the bright colors on the edges of the pages of my growing collection of old medical books, I began working from the observation that the interior of the body was evident not only on the inside of the books through image and text, but also on the outsides of the book. I re-formed these red, pink and yellow colored pages into new medical paper sculptures to create distinct specimens/sculptures that reference intricate cross-sections of flesh. In one series, the paper sculptures are bound with wound care materials – gauze, plaster and cotton bandages. In another series entitled “Biospecimens”, slices of books and pages are pressed inside of glass domes and/or scientific glassware and appear as taxonomy of human body parts – allegories of human flesh.
The “Sensorium” wall series were inspired by old medical texts, specifically, the colorized marble end papers found inside the covers of rare books and anatomical atlases. Pages of dictionary pages that include anatomical icons are placed on large sheets of marbleized papers that reference imagery found in microscopic slides of cells and bodily tissues. Meticulously applied small and cell-like glass beads draw out trickling lines and biomorphic shapes on top of the dictionary pages. These additions represent the limits of the dictionary definitions by signifying overflows and convergences,” Cindy Stelmackowich.
Cindy Stelmackowich is an Ottawa-based artist, curator, and professor. Born in Saskatchewan, Stelmackowich received a M.A. at Carleton University after completing a B.A. and B.F.A. at the University of Saskatchewan. Her artwork and academic research has focused on themes related to medicine and anatomical science and is linked to her Ph.D. dissertation (Binghamton University, New York). Stelmackowich has exhibited across Canada and the United States in solo and group exhibitions, and has received numerous grants from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Ottawa. In addition, Stelmackowich has received prestigious awards, residencies and international fellowships, including the 2011-12 Helfand Fellowship in the History of Medicine at the New York Academy of Medicine.