UAlberta grad and instructor exhibits art based on transplant donors and recipients’ experiences at University of Alberta Hospital
Brad Necyk (‘13 MFA) aims to transport the public inside the personal narratives of organ and tissue transplant at the University of Alberta Hospital. His exhibition Of Other Spaces, in the McMullen Gallery now until May 3, 2015, is the result of his first three months as artist in residence with the Friends of University Hospitals, in collaboration with the U of A Hospital Transplant Services.
Since taking up the post in January 2015, Necyk has met and interviewed numerous organ and tissue recipients and donors. He bore witness to the poignant stories of the families of deceased individuals who chose to donate organs and tissue. Of Other Spaces is Necyk’s creative amplification of those conversations, depicting not just the groundbreaking science of transplantation, but also the profound impact that giving up a physical part of oneself to save another life has on donors, recipients and their families.
Two video-based works anchor Of Other Spaces.
Clips from a short film called Alberta are projected on the left wall upon entrance to the gallery space. Written by Necyk and created with current UAlberta MFA student Kyle Appelt, Alberta features the work of drama acting grad Samantha Jeffery (‘13 BFA), current BFA stage management student Kasia Bryton and regular Rapid Fire Theatre improviser Leif Ingebrigsten.
Another large-scale mixed media installation, Techniques in Melancholia, is placed prominently in the centre of the room, featuring the likeness of 21-year-old Tyler, a three-time liver transplant recipient.
Necyk explains that Techniques in Melancholia explores the different ways we approach medical inspection.
“There are blood tests, scanning, all these technologically-driven ways of medicalizing the body, but there still remains the tactile one. The touching. So Tyler comes into the screen and he is touching lymph nodes, feeling the tactility of his body and really examining it through that tangible bit of your fingertips.”
A black mirror placed under the screen reflects Tyler’s expression onto a darkened void.
“For me, this piece touches on the mental health aspects that transplant recipients go through and also what donor families go through. A lot of the time, donation is the result of suicide. I saw that theme emerge in my conversations.”
A wall of 3-D modelled imagery was inspired by the visual ways of embodying disease and illness — CT scans and other diagnostic imagery, where a great deal of the work of transplant medicine is done today.
“A lot of people come in here from Transplant Services and they look at these images on the wall and say ‘oh that’s a skin graft, or that one is a heart valve and over there are kidneys.’ That’s not what I was thinking about specifically when I was making them, but that’s cool!” says Necyk.
“I had some ideas or biological processes in mind when I was creating these ambiguous images, but I love that people are reading what they see from their medical experiences into them. I wanted to create an abstract visual language for people to talk about the processes around medicine, health and biology.”
Of Other Spaces is sure to pique the curiosity of viewers while highlighting important stories of organ and tissue donation. It is no coincidence that the exhibition runs in coordination with National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week (April 18 – 25, 2015).
Exhibition title: Of Other Spaces
Dates: Until May 3, 2015
Venue: McMullen Gallery (main floor, East entrance of the University of Alberta Hospital, 8840 112 Street, Edmonton).
McMullen Gallery hours:
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed on statutory holidays.
About the McMullen Art Gallery
The McMullen Art Gallery is operated by the Friends of University Hospitals as part of the Arts in Healthcare program, which also includes the University of Alberta Hospitals Art Collection and the Artists on the Wards program. The Arts in Healthcare programming supports the healing process of patients and enriches the hospital experience of families, friends, volunteers and staff. The McMullen Art Gallery is assisted by funds raised through the Friends of University Hospitals Gift Shop and by the efforts of hundreds of volunteers.
Twitter: @McMullenGallery @FriendsofUAH
About Brad Necyk
Brad Necyk is an Edmonton-based artist and instructor in the University of Alberta’s drawing and intermedia program. He completed his MFA at the University of Alberta in 2013, and works in the media of photography, video, film and performance. His work and research explore ecology, medicine (more specifically pharmacy and psychiatry), and personal narratives. Brad is featured in the Art Gallery of Alberta’s current Alberta Biennial exhibition Future Station.