Gallery O – Megan Euker, Bodies, Ghosts, and Shadows
With every great love story comes obsession and passion. For Megan Euker it came in the form of a rare blood disease called Beta Thalassemia, an orphan disease. Through a chance encounter in 2016, the artist met Patrizio, a leading advocate in gene therapy research and a father whose son is afflicted by the disease. It was upon this moment, when learning about the disease and experiencing the vulnerability and desperation of this parent, and many others like him, that Euker genuinely falls in love with the cause and its research trajectory.
In response to her experience, the artist decided to make her first cast bronze figure of Patrizio. The figure wears a jacket that was gifted to him by grieving parents who had recently lost their son to Battens, another orphan disease. This single act of compassion and gratitude opened the door for a new body of work that deeply resonated with the artist. Euker’s artistic practice is an ongoing investigation of the human figure and the human condition. Her work reflects highly immersive experiences in which she personally becomes deeply invested and engaged emotionally, intellectually, and at times spiritually to her subject. As a multidisciplinary artist, she moves easily through different mediums and aesthetics yet never loses her sense of empathy for her subjects. This body of work will showcase over 75 cast figure sculptures ranging in sizes and metals by means of the “lost wax process” (or in the case of Euker, a “lost plastic process”). A laborious and seemingly repetitive process is employed in which a mold is made from an original wax or plastic pattern which is then melted and drained out of its ceramic mold. Molten metal is poured into the mold which finalizes in a destruction of the ceramic shell in order for the sculpture to come into existence. The form itself is created from a 3D digital file specifically rendered for each and every sculpture – modified each time to accommodate for both changes of scale and the artist’s quest for a more perfect figure. It is this complex fabrication process and the act of replicating, in which destruction and loss happens, that Euker attempts to preserve and perpetuate her figures and narratives. For the artist, the figure possesses a talismanic essence or votive offering. “With my sculptures, I hope to create conduits for new connections and instigate collaboration between art and medicine that will both further research and acknowledge advancements as I create iterations of sculptural forms that memorialize, commemorate, and represent shared passions and partnerships.” Although signatures are embedded in the sculptures, it is still hard to identify the figure. This man is one man and every man. The sculptures move between being bodies, ghosts, and shadows.
Chicago-based multimedia artist Megan Euker has been featured in such exhibition venues as Chautauqua School of Art, New York; Prince Street Gallery, New York; Togonon Gallery, San Francisco; College of DuPage, Illinois; Beverly Arts Center, Chicago; Western Exhibitions, Chicago, and The University Club of Chicago (upcoming); amongst many others. She recently presented the first Orphan Dream Award to Dr. Franco Locatelli at Casa Cava in Matera, Italy and the sculptures have appeared on Italian television including Canale 2 and TRM24. Euker has been the recipient of such honors as a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy; a Faculty Enrichment Grant from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Illinois Art Council Grant; the Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. Grant; Change, Inc. Artist Assistance Grant; and two CAAP (Community Arts Assistance Program) grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council. Euker received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, Euker is a lecturer in the departments of Contemporary Practices, Arts Administration and Policy, Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, and Continuing Studies at SAIC. This also marks Euker’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.
Megan Euker would like to say a special thank you to Patrick Girondi. For more information on the Orphan Disease project and EGT court case, please see New York Supreme Court; index number 150856/2017, Errant Gene Therapeutics against Bluebird Bio and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.