Questioning the powers of medicine’s little helpers
Artist Terry Maker explores our reliance on pills
Art exhibits can be as much about where they take place as they are about the objects they put out there. A show about race, for example, might play differently in the South than in the North, where the backstories are different. Or an exhibit of mountain landscapes might seem like a locally produced documentary in Denver but come off as exotic escapism in crowded Manhattan.
Context matters, and it is the thing that gives Terry Maker’s “Time Release” its punch at the Fulginiti Pavilion
gallery on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
In the surrounding buildings, future doctors, nurses and pharmacists are getting their basic training at the University of Colorado’s medical schools, learning how — and how much — to treat the thousands of patients they will be called upon to heal over their long careers. And in the middle is Maker, suggesting in a clever and entertaining code that their decisions are more complex than what their textbooks teach them.
Specifically, she questions our reliance on prescription pills. Maker blows them up hundreds of times their actual sizes, turning them into sculptures that sit on the floor or on pedestals or are at- tached to the walls. They retain the essential visual qualities of the real twopart capsules we depend upon for relief. They are the colors of sweet, sugar candy and children’s toys — glossy reds, blues, pinks and purples. Inside, they appear to be filled with tiny particles of medical magic, the chemicals that take away our headaches and muscle pain, that regulate our circulatory systems so our hearts pump in rhythm or re-channel our brain connections so we don’t get depressed, that keep cancer cells from reproducing or allow us to have sex when our bodies won’t meet the call to action.
By super-sizing pills, Maker glorifies them. They have a larger-thanlife role in our routines, and she points out their abilities to make out bodies better.
But these pills, of course, are too hard to swallow, and Act One Productions’ “Stand Still and Look Stupid” Dec. 16-18: New play about Hollywood legend Hedy Lamarr. $15. Skylite Station, 910 Santa Fe Dr., Denver; 303-817-7908 or act-one-productions.com Denver Center Attractions’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” Dec. 16-18: The beloved TV classic come to life on stage. $20-$75. Buell Theatre, DCPA, 14th and Curtis streets; 303-893-4100; denvercenter.org. Empire Lyric Players’ “A Gilbert and Sullivan’s Christmas Carol” Dec. 16-18: The classic Scrooge tale using Gilbert and Sullivan melodies. $20. Schoolhouse Theater, 19650 E. Mainstreet, Parker; elps.org Evergreen Players’ “Holiday EPIC Show” Dec. 16-17: Comic mash-up of various holiday classics. $10-$20. Center Stage, 27608 Fireweed Dr., Evergreen; 303-674-4934; Evergreenplayers.org Rocky Mountain Revels’ “The Christmas Revels, A Scottish Solstice Celebration” Dec. 16-18: Performance featuring Scottish traditions. $20-$28. Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder; thedairy.org Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s “Home for the Holidays” Dec. 17-18: RMRT alumnus return to the theater for an annual holiday musical revue. $20-$25. 800 Grand Ave., Grand Lake; 970-627-3421; rockymountainrep.com Denver Center Attractions’ “Finding Neverland” Dec. 20-Jan. 1: National tour of Broadway musical that tells the story behind Peter Pan. $30-$125. Buell Theatre, DCPA, 14th and Curtis streets; 303-893-4100; denvercenter.org Compiled by Mark Collins, Special to The Denver Post that invites us to look at their limits, at issues of dependency and necessity. Do we take too many of them because they are an easy fix? Or because drug companies, reaching for profits, dress them up as attractive solutions in those endless TV commercials?
She goes deeper, raising questions of faith and spirituality. How does our belief in modern medicine mesh with our belief in ourselves, or a higher power? In a society that increasingly reaches for pills over prayers or patience, does quick-fix medicine replace or enhance our confidence in our own minds to connect meaningfully to the universe?
It’s not uncommon to see artists exploring medicine, or pills in particular. The well-known, artistprankster Damien Hirst did it two decades ago, recreating their shapes and natural attractiveness and asking us to stand face-to-face with them in a gallery setting.
The art collaborative known as Pharmacopoeia bases its whole body of work around our relationship with medicine, and the British Museum has made prominent its “Cradle to
Terry Maker’s “Cure All,” from 2016, is part of her exhibit at the art gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Photo by Chris Rogers,
Terry Maker’s 2016 “Time Release” is 5 feet in diameter and made from shredded paper and prescription warnings. Nicholas DeSciose, provided by Anschutz Medical Campus