Friday, September 24, 2010

Orthopedic Splints - Art? Yep!

I just received a phone call on Wednesday from Jesse Kaupilla, assistant to highly acclaimed and prolific artist Catherine Wagner, announcing that Catherine's new exhibition will open October 4 at the Stephen Wirz Gallery in San Francisco at 49 Geary Street. You might ask why this would be of interest to us, beyond our appreciation of art, of course.

In mid-June, Catherine and her crew flew up from San Francisco to set up a studio in the History of Medicine Room, close on the heels of their boxes and bags of photographic equipment. Catherine had made arrangements with us to photograph a collection of splints in our Medical Museum to include in her exhibition. We were excited and very curious about the whole idea; we found it hard to imagine what she might have in mind.

We have been waiting on "pins and needles", so to speak, to see how she might have transformed them and to what expression she might have lent them. Would they express trauma, hope, sadness, restriction, freedom... or would they become something altogether different, unrecognizable, astonishing yet informative?

Most of the splints were donated by Dr. Bert Campbell, MD and J. M. Batcheller, MD. (a quick check of our biographical and image files does not reveal any information about these two generous physicians). The splints are really quite fascinating in the form and function for which they were created, but we've just got to see what Catherine has done.

Though I for one cannot fly to San Francisco to attend the opening, Jesse assures us that there will be images posted on the Gallery Web site. Perhaps, if providence allows, we will recieve an exhibiton catalog for the Archives.

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