Saturday, October 23, 2010

QÜESTIONS - An Interview with Lisa Wood

Here at the Mütter Museum we are fortunate to have a collection that inspires artists and craftspeople the world over. In our Museum Store we carry some of their creations. From the cute and clever to the genuinely thought-provoking, we are pleased to offer a wide variety of interpretive work. It's a truly symbiotic relationship which benefits both artist and institution.

Since most of these folks are also really interesting people, we thought it would be fun to interview them. Our third QÜESTIONS interview features Lisa Wood, whose series of mixed media wall art and companion book, "The Swallowing Plates," was inspired in part by the Mütter Museum's Chevalier Jackson cabinet. The book contains full-color photographs of all of the plates in the series and spins semi-fictional narratives to accompany each finely-detailed piece.

Now for our QÜESTIONS:

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.

My name is Lisa Wood and I'm an artist and collector living and working in San Francisco.

I specialize in Victorian arts and crafts and incorporate their sensibilities into shadowboxes that memorialize the dead, surreal dioramas on the hidden world of insects, mourning jewelry that captures the essence of the human spirit and other curiosities that were inspired by what was collected, constructed and treasured at the time. It was an era obsessed with both art and nature, as well as new medical and mechanical technologies that offered some hope for the prevalent perils of early disease and untimely deaths. I guess I'm a Victorian Revivalist Surrealist.

My website is located at

and a more updated site is my facebook page.

What do you think motivates your work?
Nature, odd human behavior, obscure collections and treasures, the marvels of the human body, hidden worlds, medical mysteries and forensic science.

If your life was a book, what genre would it be?
An over-sized picture book with lots of pop ups.

What fictional character most resembles you and why?
A mix between Willy Wonka and Dr. Doolittle....I tend to spend a lot time in my own little world and in this world I can talk to the animals and eat all the chocolate I want!

What non-fictional character most resembles you and why?
A cross between Theodor Geisel (Dr. Suess), Joseph Cornell and Little Edie Beale of Grey Gardens....I'm a bit of an odd wacky reclusive.

What's your poison?
I love fresh drinks made with ginger: spicy ginger ale, ginger beer and the Moscow Mule, which is made with vodka, ginger beer and lime over ice and served in a copper cup.

What is the last song you had on repeat?
A piece called "Disappointment" from the silent film, "The Phantom Carriage" by Matti Bye...a beautifully dark soundtrack.

Name three things that scare you.
Organized religion
The way we treat this planet of ours
Sports bars

In your opinion, what is the greatest invention that has occurred in your lifetime?
I love music and the ipod has changed the way I listen to it. It amazes me that I can carry my entire music collection in my pocket and retrieve a particular song within seconds.

If you saw a red door, what color would you paint it?
Why would anyone want to paint over a red door?

Direct attack or subterfuge?
Subterfuge is much more interesting.

What's the most rewarding part of your work?
When each piece finds someone that loves it as much as I do.

If you could influence human evolution, what do you think a good physical trait would be?
Get rid of the entire digestive system. If there is no need to eat, then can you imagine how many problems would be solved: world hunger, animal cruelty, etc.

How about non-physical?
By sealing off the part of the brain that drives us to want to conquer everyone and everything.

How did you first learn about the Mütter Museum?
I remember reading about the plaster body casts of the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng years ago... it was an introduction to the entire museum and I have been hooked ever since.

What is your favorite specimen?
The entire Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection, of course!

How does the Mütter's collection inspire you?
It reminds me that anything is possible... what the human body can endure and what the human spirit can achieve.

What's next for you?
My fascinations at the moment are twins and hoarding. I plan on making dioramas of twins that have outrageous collections... we'll see what transpires!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

They're back! Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutters

Ready to cause a ruckus? Just bring some conjoined Gingerbread Men cookies to your next party or office get-together and watch everyone have twice the fun.

Buy yours at the Mütter Museum Store: Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutter