Smile Politely

Big problems with small causes: Cellular art on display at IMC

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 5th, the IMC Gallery will open its new show with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Centum Cellulosa by Elizabeth Boyd-Hartmann Dizik, consists of 100 ink drawings of cells displayed in a linear manner. In addition to this exhibit, the artist has compiled a book of all 100 drawings that will be sold only during the duration of the show. 

Dizik, an up and coming artist, is showcasing this body of work separately for the first time, although the pieces were the starting point for a larger whole that was displayed as Cellulae Praecursoria at the recent SOFA Expo at Navy Pier in early November. Centum Cellulosa, the smaller portion that will be displayed at the IMC, was inspired by cells and malignancies within them when Dizik was trying to understand her husband’s medical treatment. 

Disease is not something that humans can really control, but is seen as unexpected, unpredictable, and unending. In such uncertain situations, people often look to others —doctors and researchers— to take it out of their hands because it seems too large a concept to truly understand. In the same way, there is so much about cells that humans have not figured out, yet cells are within every living thing as the building blocks of life.

When faced with an uncontrollable, inexplicable force, it is natural for a person to attempt to maintain tighter control over the things one can. The repetition present in the exhibition is both an expression of control over something that is simultaneously larger and smaller than human beings (the disease and the microscopic cells that cause it), and the malignancy which becomes apparent as the images repeat. It prompts us to contemplate the strength and beauty that can be found inside a single cell, while at the same time forces us to confront the chaos of one infinitesimal corruption. 

“This work was an exercise in process, multiples and repetition,” says the artist. She goes on to explain that it was a way for her to be able to draw repetitively but without replicating exactly: each drawing is still an original image. By using the same process to create multiple images that resemble each other greatly, they can work together in this exhibit and yet maintain individuality. As an artist, Dizik is able to show her control over her technique by reproducing images in a manner that keeps them separate while still being various parts of a much larger whole, much like this smaller exhibition is part of the larger work.

Each 3×3 drawing is created solely through pen and ink, and will be displayed on a Bristol board in IMC Gallery. By arranging all of the paintings in a single line, Dizik hopes that the viewers will be able to initially take in all of the drawings at the same time, in order to emphasize the strength in the images all together. As the viewer progresses through the exhibit, one will be able to focus on a single depiction, and the variance from its predecessor. Dizik has worked to display how cancer feels to her personally while also giving her viewers a visual representation of how most people think it functions.


Centum Cellulosa will be on display in the art gallery throughout the month of December at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center located at 202 S. Broadway, Urbana, aka the old post office. The opening reception will be Saturday,  December 5th from 6-8 p.m.

Images courtesy of the artist. 

More Articles