The Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities is a little jewel box set among the behemoth buildings of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Though small, it has a big job: to build a bridge between the sciences that dominate the campus and the largely neglected arts. The Fulginiti’s gallery, where Simon Zalkind serves as curator, is part of this effort. In its current exhibit, Terry Maker: Time Release, Zalkind showcases the artist’s most recent efforts, supplemented by older pieces that anticipated them.
At first blush, the show has a carnival atmosphere; it’s filled with neo-pop wall panels and sculptures in bright colors. The apparent subject is medication, since many of the pieces include renditions of capsules and others feature pill bottles, prescriptions, side-effect warnings and other pharmaceutical detritus. Several works have biblical titles that, in light of the drug references, would seem to indicate an ironic conceptual underpinning to the show: “Religion is the opium of the people” and all that. But according to Terry Maker, nothing could be further from the truth. For her, medicine and religion are bound together by their shared healing qualities, and both are very important to her personally. So the show’s mirthful feeling notwithstanding, these pieces celebrate medicine and faith.
In Maker’s earlier pieces incorporating drugstore refuse, such as 2010’s “Lenticular Slice,” the imagery is completely abstract. But in the current works, there are frequent references to actual things — in particular, those capsules. Some of these beautifully rendered capsules are done in painted, lathe-turned foam; in the sculpture “Root of Jesse,” there’s a row of linked capsules coming off a floor-bound stand, bending under its own weight in an arcing line. Others have been vacuum-formed using plastics, as in “Cure All,” an installation of capsules scattered around a larger one.
The exhibit’s showstopper is the monumental wall sculpture “Job’s Lament.” In this horizontal diptych, Maker has used saw-cut aggregated paper and paint to convey a multi-colored hill rising from left to right, set against the sky. In a non-repeating pattern across the panels, she has affixed variously sized capsules.
“The pills are marking an uphill battle,” explains Maker, “only to know that we are mortal creatures and this world is temporary.” The piece is breathtaking, and the medical school really ought to think about acquiring it; it would be perfect at the pharmacy school.
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Terry Maker: Time Release runs through February 16 at the Fulginiti Pavilion, 13080 19th Avenue in Aurora; call 303-724-3994 or go to ucdenver.edu for hours and directions — a necessity if you haven’t been there before.