Katie Hargrave and Amber Ginsburg / Betty Rymer at the Betty Rymer
On the 20th Anniversary of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Betty Rymer Gallery, Amber Ginsburg and I were invited to investigate the namesake of the exhibition space, Betty Rymer. The resulting project is an investigation into erasure, public and private memory, midcentury femininity, and the layering of stories and spaces.
Betty Rymer was a diabetic before insulin, and she did all she could to hide her diabetes from public view. As a coping mechanism, she ate massive amounts of sweets, which led to an amazing 32 surgeries in 32 years. We reenacted her strategies in the space, inviting students, faculty and staff to eat 32 cakes in an hour. In the act of eating, Betty's personal history was printed on plates resembling potluck china. By eating, participants reveal her life story. The result is presented in an online archive at www.bettyrymer.katiehargrave.us.
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