In March of 2007 my mother passed away of carcinoma. I was scheduled to be a part of a joint art show in May of the same year. Needless to say, after losing my mother, EVERYTHING became so trivial. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Doing that show was the least of my worries. After calling the curator to let them know I wouldn’t be in the show, he reminded me that part of being an artist is working through tough times with art. He told me that if I was up to it, I should use this tragedy to inspire my work for the show.
I was going to do a series based on cancer and its far reaching affects on society. Each piece dealt with different steps within the process of dealing with cancer. I wanted these pieces to be emotionally charged so I spent less time “rendering” and more time focusing on conveying a feeling with the brush strokes. Since yellow had now become synonymous with “cancer” through the “Live Strong” campaign, I knew I wanted to use yellow. It was later that I found out, that cadmium yellow paint is TOXIC if used over a period of time, and has been known to be quite carcinogenic. (in laymen’s terms, the color of paint I was using to paint my cancer series, causes cancer over time) I also wanted to make them ambiguous enough that everyone could relate. Because this disease in its many forms doesn’t care about your riches, or race, or poverty, or sexual orientation. It affects EVERYONE.
The first piece is “The Haircut”. I wanted this piece to show the blankness of staring into a mirror and seeing yourself for the first time after chemo treatments.
Then “The Dying”. This piece speaks to the realization that dying is a possibility, and becoming content with that reality.
“The Amputee” and “The Smoker” are pretty literal. Breast cancer is the leading cancer within women, and lung cancer within men. With “The Smoker” I wanted to also speak to the “rugged blue collar American” tobacco companies sell to using icons like the Marlboro Man.
Finally, “The Wait” is the most open for interpretation. You don’t know if she just found out she or someone she knows has cancer. It’s the feeling of being helplessly backed into a corner. I chose this concept because in EVERY instance the feeling of being “backed into a corner” is the exact moment before you cower in defeat, or rise up and triumph.