Last summer multimedia artist Christine LoFaso began to canvass people about their attitudes toward their bodies via an informal E-mail to friends and colleagues and a temporary Web site. She asked people what they liked about their bodies and whether their feelings on the subject had changed over time, and received about 100 anonymous answers from people ranging in age from 20 to 70. "I was amazed at their honesty and poignancy," says LoFaso, who has been exploring this subject in her art for about a decade. Anorexics wrote about "moving to an understanding that the problem has nothing to do with the body." Others had incurred bodily injury or loss. One woman wrote, "After 60 years I've become accustomed to my body. Sometimes in the grocery store I wish I were taller. I have nice legs. I wish I still had both breasts."
LoFaso used an electronic Jacquard loom to weave their words into fabric that covers a dozen chairs on permanent display at the Chicago Cultural Center. For another fabric she superimposed some of the text over a close-up image of a human brain before it was woven; that version covers seven chairs "that have been manipulated and exaggerated" into a construction that "takes on characteristics as diverse as the human body in all of its different guises." The seven-chair construction is part of LoFaso's installation at Artemisia Gallery called The Body Project, which displays people's bodily revelations in other ways as well: they're etched onto rectangular pieces of glass of human height so as to cast shadows of the text onto the wall, written in calligraphy in a book whose pages have been dyed and manipulated to resemble "badly tanned skin," and woven in white into off-white fabric that covers an easy chair. LoFaso and artists Nora Herting, Elaine Scheer, Patty Abraham, Louise McKissick, and Victoria Scott, who have shows opening in Artemisia's other galleries, will talk about their work at tonight's free reception. It runs from 5 to 8 at the gallery, 700 N. Carpenter; LoFaso's talk starts at 7:30. Call 312-226-7323 for more.