Our upcoming exhibition with artist Sarah Mihara Creagen, FCG Mask Bank, and UPwithART
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Toxic Bodies
Sarah Mihara Creagen

Opens Saturday, May 6 from 3-5 PM 
IV infusion bag with oyster mushrooms growing out of a midway slit.
A flush (of mushrooms, a flushing IV), 2023 (installation detail)

­This is a detail taken from an installation incorporating different living organisms used within the bioremediation process with medical equipment. The title, A Flush, came from a conversation with an artist/nurse-in-training friend. I discovered while sharing that a mushroom's blooms, referred to as flushes, is also the name of a process she regularly performs while delivering IV medication.

I'm hooked up to these infusion meds every 7 weeks.

ID: IV infusion bag with oyster mushrooms growing out of a midway slit
1. Infusion Day
It's the week before the opening of Toxic Bodies, and I'm sitting in the infusion clinic, trying to not look at the needle taped to my left arm for the next few hours. 
I am having an ongoing long-term relationship with medication delivered through an IV infusion every seven weeks. 
I've been thinking a lot about transformations, and this idea of a chimera. In botany, a chimera is a plant or plant part that is a mixture of two or more genetically different types of cells. 
I've found the "chimera" existing in many different worlds: botanical, mythological, and medicinal. 
I'm on two different biologic drugs right now, both derived from animal DNA (Murinae and Cricetulus griseus families). These drugs, biological medicines, have been created by using living cells or organisms and are essential for disease management. 
2. Chimera 
I thought I could train myself to breath underwater when I was young, and used to practice taking breaths with a shallow container of water in the bathroom. I wished to be more than human. 
I've started thinking about how these more recent biologic drugs have maybe created a hybrid within me. Being mixed-race Japanese, I’ve already explored the dualities of different histories and myths living inside me. The drugs, helping manage Crohn's Disease, have left me feeling constantly remade and broken-apart. 
3. Toxins
In my continued relationship with plants, I've been exploring biological remediation, or the bioremediation process. This process is, basically, using a living organism to remove a toxin from the environment. Within the grassroots bioremediation processes that uses plants and fungi (phytoremediation and mycoremediation), the plants and fungi are essentially removing the toxins from the soil by growing in it. The toxins enter the root system and remain contained there. The plants that grow in toxic soil and accumulate chemicals are then disposed of as toxic entities themselves. 
In cities or areas where there's a history of industry, it's not uncommon for chemicals and heavy metals to find their way into the soil. Living in one of these cities, and working on a public bioremediation garden project in another, I’m exploring modes of grassroots bioremediation, and starting to learn about which plants are the most efficient for different metals. This process seems to speak to a bodily relationship to chronic illness and medication, to illness and recovery. How are these toxins acting and impacting the environment/body? 
I've been reading in particular about plant interaction with Uranium and Cesium, Oyster Mushrooms, Brown Mustard, Tall Fescue, Sunflowers ... Where these plants grow, their deep, fast growing roots, bulky plant mass, and (for the Oyster Mushrooms) mycelium help remove these toxins from their environments. Sunflowers in particular are hyperaccumulators for heavy metals and toxins. 
I'm a 1.5 or maybe 2nd gen, mixed-race Japanese. My Bachan, grandmother, was born outside of Hiroshima and lived there through WW2 and the atomic bombs. The stories we've been left with about the aftermath and her helping with recovery response are understandably sparse. These plants could never fully remove the contaminants from atomic bombs on their own, but sunflowers have amazing properties as hyperaccumulators, to remove huge amounts of radionuclides cesium 137 and strontium 90 from the soil when grown near disaster sites.
5. More than
Spending time growing these plants and mushrooms in my home this winter has left space to imagine these worlds and stories collapsing in on each other: stories of illness, humour, chimeric transformations, and movement from human to more than human. 
- Sarah Mihara Creagen, May 2023

The artist gratefully acknowledges support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
FCG's Mask Bank is a free KN95 distribution programme for our community; visitors, members and non-members alike. KN95 masks are available upon arrival to the gallery to use during your visit. You are also invited to take a pack of masks with you for your daily use. Please note: masks are required during the exhibition of Toxic Bodies by Sarah Mihara Creagen.

This illustration appears courtesy of Vancouver-based artist Dana Kearley, whose work centers on care, slowness, and healing, taking inspiration from ’80s, and '90s pop culture. Drawing from their own precarious health, Kearley often illustrates beings using mobility devices or living with disabilities or in this case, wearing PPE. Follow Dana on social media @danakearley 

Thanks to Bona Fide Masks for providing Forest City Gallery with authentic Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). See our form for further info on the Mask Bank and to request and schedule assistance during your mask pickup at the gallery. 
FCG is proud to support #UPwithART, London’s best arty-party and silent art auction fundraiser which supports both Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness and Museum London. We truly appreciate the importance of the arts and social justice in London and we hope you’ll join us on the evening of May 6 at Museum London for 3 floors of activities, 60 pieces of art up for bid, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and music! You can also bid on the works online from April 27 - May 6. View the art, buy your tickets, and place your bids all at UPwithART.ca 

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