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Betty Rymer at the Betty Rymer

With Katie Hargrave

Betty Rymer is a project developed for the 20th Anniversary of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Betty Rymer Gallery. It is an investigation into erasure, public and private memory, midcentury femininity, and the layering of stories and spaces.

Betty Rymer was a diabetic before insulin, and she did all she could to hide her diabetes from public view. To conceal her disease, she ate massive amounts of sweets, which led to an amazing 32 surgeries in 32 years. As a reenactment of her coping mechanisms students, faculty and staff were invited to eat 32 cakes in an hour. Through the act of eating, participants revealed Betty’s life story printed on the plates. The result is presented in an online archive at www.bettyrymer.amberginsburg.com.

Betty Rymer Gallery — Chicago, Illinois — 2009