Allure and disgust at Firehouse

What appears to be flesh hangs on the wall with metal contraptions stuck through it. In the opposite room, real stitches from a head wound are used as materials. The scene described is not one from an old school horror movie, but rather the “Medicine & Mortality” exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery.In the tradition of Mary Shelley, local artists depict medicine through the lens of something almost supernatural. The artwork of Linda E. Jones, Sasanqua Link and Nathaniel Price displayed in the new exhibit all explore the dichotomy of allure and disgust presented by modern medicine.Chris Thompson, the curator of the exhibit, observed this common theme between Jones’s and Price’s works and, with addition of Link’s, put the exhibit together.”I immediately felt slightly repulsed,” Thompson said of his first impression of Jones’s artwork, “but it was also sort of beautiful.” All the work of all three artists have strong emotional aspects.Jones incorporates medical objects such as stitches, X-rays and CT scans that came from members of her family and uses them as the basis of her pieces of artwork.For Jones, working with such materials has been cathartic.”It has to do with my mother and sentiment and transferring the material that has been so intimate with my family,” Jones said. Nathaniel Price, who used to be a resident at Fletcher Allen Hospital, fuses his medical and artistic sensibilities, exploring the connections between them.”I think that one of the hopes is to be able to communicate some kind of story, ” Price said. “[As] much as we use the body to experience the world, I use the body as a vehicle to tell a narrative.” Sasanqua Link, originally trained as a jeweler and metalsmith, creates pieces using wax and metal, forming what appear to be body parts and medical apparatuses, respectively.”There’s this push and pull of preserving something physical and trying to reference something eternal,” Link said.Contrasting the organic nature of the subject of the body is the focus on the advances in medical technology that the exhibit examines.”There’s definitely something culturally underneath this,” Thompson said. “We have a culture that’s simultaneously obsessed with health care, and at the same time we have a sort of repulsion. I love that tension and sort of ambiguity.”The subject is not one that has clear black-and-white boundaries, and the exhibit attempts to examine the gray area.”I’m glad that they’re bringing in something a little more controversial,” Burlington resident  Caitlin Ettenvorough said. “It’s going to raise a lot of questions about how we read medicine.”