Walk Back to Your Body: Alison Hiltner
View of installation, As Seen, with pink fuzzy rugs, and black wires lining the wall.

Last fall, four artists and five medical researchers embarked on interdisciplinary collaborations that have led to new cultural perspectives on complex medical questions. This series of blog posts is meant to highlight their processed before the culmination of these collaborations, taking place in the Target Studio on December 5. More info about that event here >>

After visiting the Medical School’s Visible Heart Lab and Systems Regeneration Lab, artist Alison Hiltner began her artist residency beside Dr. Paul Iaizzo and Dr. Brenda Ogle. The team set out to test how sculptural language may inform the creation of new cardiac devices. Hiltner took note of how cardiology research could inspire her artistic practice along the way.

“It has become obvious that by looking at the streamlined truths of simple biological processes, we can learn how to structure our paths of discovery,” Hiltner said. “There were many astounding moments in the time that I have spent observing the work that these researchers do; two stand out: discovering that cells die of loneliness, and holding a beating heart in my hands.”

In response, Hiltner created an interface that allowed two people to share the experience of one heartbeat. In real time, data of one person’s heartbeat transferred to an object that replicated the data. By holding the proxy object, the second person can literally feel the first’s heartbeat, holding it in their hands.

This winter, Hiltner continues to investigate the implications of her project, and she hopes to begin working with heart transplant patients.

“The Target Studio offers a place to take risks and allows time to develop the work while still being able to interact with the public, redefining what it means to create work in a museum,” Hiltner said.

Bowl of pink fuzzy material with electronic probes.
Bowl holding pink jelly substance with white electronic probes.

Join Alison Hiltner, artists and researchers, Dean of Medical School Dr. Jakub Tolar, and Target Studio Curator for Creative Collaboration Boris Oicherman in conversation on December 5.

Let us know you’re coming>>

Alison Hiltner

About the Artist

Alison Hiltner currently lives and works in Minneapolis, MN. She received a BFA from the University of Kansas and a MFA from the University of Minnesota. Hiltner’s credits include solo exhibitions at Spike Gallery in New York, the Museum of Surgical Sciences in Chicago and Heineman Myers Contemporary Art in Washington DC. In 2004 Alison was an artist in residence at Sculpture Space and received a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in 2007 and 2011, MRAC/McKnight Foundation Next Step Grant and was named one of the 2011/12 Jerome Foundation Fellows. Hiltner has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions on the east coast and the Midwest including the Minnesota Biennial: 3D II at the Minnesota Museum of American Art and recently at the Evanston Art Center in Chicago.