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UNE presents traveling art installation that interprets viewers’ stories of medical care

from "SANCTUARY" by Emily Rapp Black and Carrie Scanga
from "SANCTUARY" by Emily Rapp Black and Carrie Scanga

January 30, 2020

"'SANCTUARY' ... seeks to have communal, cultural, and intellectual impact,” says artist Carrie Scanga.
"'SANCTUARY' ... seeks to have communal, cultural, and intellectual impact,” says artist Carrie Scanga.

The University of New England is currently presenting “SANCTUARY,” a traveling art installation that will be exhibited in medical centers, hospitals, art galleries, and academic sites across the U.S. The exhibit will be on display at UNE’s Ketchum Library Art Gallery on the Biddeford Campus through May 15.

As a “living” exhibit, “SANCTUARY” showcases the work of writer Emily Rapp Black and artist Carrie Scanga, who interpret viewers’ stories of medical circumstances in visual and textual forms in an ever-changing paper installation accompanied by written text. In each venue where it will be installed, viewers will be invited to record and submit their stories within the immersive installation. After the close of each venue’s exhibition, Scanga and Black will dismantle the sculpture and will read or listen to all submitted stories, identifying moments of rupture, healing, working-through, and peace.

Based on viewers’ submissions, the collaborators will change both the paper structure of the installation and the textual accompaniment. Black’s accompanying essays will provide intellectual context by interweaving viewers’ submitted stories with trauma theory, philosophy, and personal experience. All submissions will be kept anonymous. 

“SANCTUARY” is a living installation, a space that hears experiences of those working in, admitted to, or visiting medical centers. It seeks to have communal, cultural, and intellectual impact,” said Scanga.

According to Scanga and Black, “SANCTUARY” actively reverses the feelings of isolation often created by medical conditions by comingling two powerful modalities—visual and textual. “The changing installation echoes the idea that collective storytelling acts as a dynamic vehicle for individual and social change,” said Black. “SANCTUARY demonstrates new ways of thinking about peoples’ life experiences that involve medical care, moving beyond commonly-used terms such as ‘survival’ and ‘resiliency.’ Rather than viewing recovery as the end goal, our project encourages medical conditions and recovery to co-exist, giving visual and verbal forms to both processes.”

The exhibit was organized for UNE by Cally Gurley M.L.I.S., special collections librarian. UNE’s Ketchum Library Art Gallery is located on the University’s Biddeford Campus at 11 Hills Beach Road. Daily hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, contact Gallery and Exhibitions Director Hilary Irons by email or phone (207-221-4449).

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