Timea Tihanyi was trained as a medical doctor in her native Hungary before immigrating to the U.S. in the 1990s and completing an MFA in sculpture at the University of Washington, Seattle. The focus of her biomorphic felt constructions is the attraction and repulsion that defines, in her words, our culture’s binary model of fetishizing or sanitizing the body. There couldn’t be a more appropriate context for this work than the International Museum of Surgical Science, whose exhibitions and displays occupy that exquisite space of unwilling fascination and mesmerizing disgust with our bodies’ viscera. The Museum’s collection of trepanned skulls, thirteenth-century surgery knives and one very unpleasant-looking Roman speculum lend Tihanyi’s sculptures an array of associations with scientific discoveries, anatomical structures and contemporary medical technologies. The central piece, “I’m a Uniter, Not a Divider,” is a looping string of puffy pink felt whose suspended branches and bifurcations suggest nothing so much as that a large mammal has been disemboweled in the gallery. In fact, the long object is a 3D rendering of a map of the Columbia River, depicting its largest estuary (a fat pink pillow) and smallest channels (thin, dangling capillaries). This meeting of geography, medical mapping and twee crafting balances what is otherwise an awkward Annette Messager/Louise Bourgeois hybrid. (Rachel Furnari)
Through July 18 at International Museum of Surgical Science, 1524 North Lake Shore, (312)642-6502.