The new exhibition, Coronal Plane, in Schmucker Art Gallery explores the various works by artist and Penn State professor Cristin Millett. Millett’s artwork characterizes the intersection between medical history, Catholicism and the female identity. The gallery space is anchored by the installation work, Coronal Plane, which directly references the anatomical theater at the University of Padua built in 1594.
More than a space of exploration, the anatomical theater became a form of entertainment for socialites, students and everyday citizens. Millett flips a slice of the anatomical theater on its side; the thin decorated walls on view in the gallery correlate to the railings of the anatomical theater in Italy.
Visitors walk through the row of panels which ends with a white table that has been imprinted with a body of a female form. The table evokes a sense of a sterile operating table that would have been similar to the focal point in the anatomical theater.
The reverse side of the panels features small portals — visitors are encouraged to look through. The portals display anatomical drawings of developing fetuses printed from the text De Formato Foetu (1604). Viewing the drawings from the low kneeling risers suggests a sense of religious traditions typical of Catholic confessional booths. The work in its totality draws on the act of seeing and being seen either from the viewpoint of the audience or dissected body.
Remaining works in the exhibit make references to contemporary topics like the #MeToo movement, women’s health and Trump administration. Even though the works by Millett relate to historical periods, the topics are still a vital concern for society today.
Millett’s work forces us to think about how far we have come, and how far we still need to go. This exhibition comes to Gettysburg Campus at a perfect time with the possible hopes of sparking intellectual conversation, activism and change.
Schmucker Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10-4PM. Coronal Plane will be open until March 9, 2018. Art Alliance will be hosting an After Hours in the Gallery event February 9, 2018 from 9-11PM.