For the past three years, Megan Euker has devoted her research and artistic practice to orphan disease (OD) advocacy, specifically focusing on the cure of Sickle Cell Disease and Beta Thalassemia through gene therapy. Called ‘orphan diseases,’ these conditions affect small patient populations who have been ‘orphaned’ by the pharmaceutical industry in pursuit of more lucrative opportunities. Certain incentives have helped remedy this oversight, but all too often lead to monopolies on new medications and high prices for those most in need. In the midst of this is a battle: the ongoing court cases of Errant Gene Therapeutics (Chicago) versus Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Bluebird Bio (New York)* and Errant Gene Therapeutics versus Nick Leschly and Third Rock Ventures (Boston).
The exhibition places these legal cases at the heart of an investigation into orphan diseases and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in controlling treatment research and patient access. Music and videos of the Orphan Dream Band, a group founded around orphan diseases, will fill the space with rock, blues and soul pieces about life with these afflictions.
Euker makes use of illustrations and diagrams explaining gene therapy, Sickle Cell Disease, and Beta Thalassemia; documents and articles relating to court cases; and other data sets to present a case of corruption and fault in the world of “Big Pharma.” She reflects on this data and research through her artmaking, 3D printed and cast metal sculptures, timelines, data visualization, and book promotion to encourage the viewer to both contemplate the workings of the industry and strive for hopefulness and change for those most affected by its practices.**
*New York State Court e-track index number 150856/2017
**All graphics produced in collaboration with TJ Fulfer; music and videos by The Orphan Dream Band
About Megan Euker:
Megan Euker has been represented by Linda Warren Projects in Chicago since 2008 and featured in The International Museum of Surgical Science; Matthew Rachman Gallery, Chicago; The University Club of Chicago; Chautauqua School of Art, New York; Prince Street Gallery, New York; The Storefront Project, New York; Togonon Gallery, San Francisco; College of DuPage, Illinois; Beverly Arts Center, Chicago; and Western Exhibitions, Chicago and other prestigious venues.
In 2017, at Casa Cava in Matera, Italy, a world heritage site, she, along with The Orphan Dream Band, presented the first Orphan Dream Award to Dr. Franco Locatelli. Her sculptures have appeared on Italian television including Canale 2 and TRM24. She presented the second and third Orphan Dream Awards to Dr. Michel Sadelain of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. John Tisdale of the National Institute of Health. Megan is an orphan disease advocate and is dedicated to supporting the mission of Errant Gene Therapeutics.
She has been the recipient of such honors as a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy; two Faculty Enrichment Grants from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; a Compassion and Belonging Grant from SAIC; the Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. Grant; Change, Inc. Grant;. Artist Assistance Grant; two CAAP (Community Arts Assistance Program) and two DCASE grants. Euker received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Euker is a Lecturer in the departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects; Contemporary Practices; and Continuing Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Read more at meganeuker.com