Museum showcases artist whose primary medium is blood

by Jenna Reed staff writer

There is blood on the walls in two small gallery rooms in the International Museum of Surgical Science (IMSS) on 1524 North Lakeshore Drive just south of Lincoln Park. New York born artist Jordan Eagles’ showcase displays his undeniably unique art, made primarily of blood.  “Blood Work” in Chicago is one of three solo exhibitions Eagles is presenting in September, in addition to New York City, Detroit and West Hollywood. His work has been included in many collections across the country and critically acclaimed in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, WIRED and countless others. This particular exhibition complements the IMSS’s current series “Anatomy in the Gallery” which explores the cohesion of medicine and contemporary art.

Eagles’ exhibit perfectly correlates with the museum’s goal, as his work is not only composed of biological material but also reflects biological images. In the first gallery the room is empty other than four schoolhouse projectors on which plexiglas slides infused with blood sit. Layers of slides, strategically placed and directed, cast orange-red light across the walls, floors, and the ceiling. The dried blood on the slides forms cracks that resemble the desert floor, and rings on the next plexiglas layer resemble close-up photos of blood cells. And in the midst of the red glow is the viewer, forcibly pushed upon the art. The slides reflect up onto the viewer and cast shadows of silhouettes upon the walls. The effect begs the audience to think, “This is what I’m made of.” The stark contrast of living beings amidst blood haunts the viewer with the question of modern art: “Why?”

The second gallery is in juxtaposition to the first. The walls are clean and white, free of blood projections. Traditional box canvases hang on the wall, well-spaced and brightly lit. But only at first glance is the gallery traditional. The box canvases are actually transparent boxes made of plexiglas and resin wherein liquid and decomposed blood are preserved in 3-D. Each piece is distinctly unique from the others. Eagles’ creative process allows for the same types of material to be used in many ways to create a breadth of pieces. The first piece, “Blood Dust,” showcases blood which is decomposed and pulverized. The top half is primarily transparent to the wall behind with dark reflective blood dust particles suspended in the resin.

The bottom half is dark, filled with layer upon layer of blood dust giving it the appearance of being feet deep, when in reality it is only three inches. “Roze, 15-17” are three pieces displayed together and are the most minimalistic of the pieces on display.

Blood soaked gauze coats the huge plexiglas sheets in a progressively chaotic fashion from left to right. The depth of the pieces is astounding.

What is perhaps most impressive about Eagles’ work is its implications. Blood has certain social expectations attached to it. Take the upcoming movie “Sinister” for instance. The ad campaign for the movie is based around a frightful image of blood running down the walls to form a face resembling a skull. Blood is often viewed like this in a grotesque, violent and deplorable manner. But when standing in the middle of Eagles’ art it becomes apparent that blood can be beautiful. It poses questions for the viewers and encourages thought about art, beauty and social expectations of the very thing which keeps us alive: blood.

Eagles’ exhibition runs through Nov. 30 and is free to the public every Tuesday. Go see his work to have your views challenged and your artistic eye stretched. For more information visit: http://www.jordaneagles.com/  or  http://www.imss.org/.

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