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Theatre, Music, etc.


March 13, 2009

Treatment and side effects come together in sculpture

Lakewood, Ohio--Chris Sweiger, a Cleveland native whose art is known for its use of items suspended in resin, returned from New York City to open his latest show at Bela Dubby coffeeshop and gallery on March 6.

Sweiger was diagnosed HIV-positive a few years ago, at roughly the same time his mother was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He never discussed his HIV status with her, and she died in summer 2008.

Having conceived Rx in the days when he first started taking medications for his condition, the pieces took on an additional element of loss after the death of his mother.

Images of lungs began to enter the pieces, along with the child-proof instructions from the lids of his pill bottles.

He also began incorporating new elements and forms into his work.

Some of his resin-encased pieces now contain round, empty spaces.

Sweiger, who moved to New York a couple years ago, noted that the bubbles bend the light, throwing a spotlight on the images underneath.

�And I was tired of the busy-ness of things being suspended in resin,� he conceded, although expired HIV medication and dead insects are still prominent in his work.

A trio of dolls in the show are also a major departure from his earlier work--�Danny Diarrhea,�� �Eczema van der Medicineface� and �The Fibrosis Sisters.�

These are not the dolls a small child would want to play with, however. Despite a certain whistling-through-the-graveyard playfulness, there is a brutal honesty behind them.

�The Fibrosis Sisters,� a two-headed tribute to his mother and aunt who both succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, have pins in their feet signifying the neuralgia that may result from taking medications for their disease. It is also a side-effect of some AIDS medications.

�Eczema van der Medicineface� is, Sweiger says, a cross between himself and Zelda Kaplan, the 90-year-old New York institution known as the world�s oldest club kid. When he first began taking HIV medication, he developed a severe case of eczema, so bad that he did not want to be seen in public. The doll, however, shows the spots on its arms but, like Kaplan and her infirmities, makes them fabulous.

Sweiger has something for every price range at the show, ranging from $22 for keychains and necklaces up to $350 for the largest wall pieces. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.

Rx runs through the month of March at Bela Dubby, 13321 Madison Ave. in Lakewood.




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