KATHLEEN CONNOLLY

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 3, 2002

Cup of Tea tea cup, tea pot, tea bags, and wax base: 20 x 24 inches 1995

My mother and I often sit and have tea. During this time, we talk and share feelings. The cup of tea represents my mother's cup. Written on the tags attached to each tea bag are either events, feelings or statements I heard her voice throughout the process of dealing with breast cancer. The tea bags collect and store her thoughts. They create a daily journal containing her feelings and memories.

Why Not Me! color photographs, 1995 16 x 10 inches

This February my mother, my very close friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer. This event changed the focus of my art. I was by her side through the entire process: from biopsy, to mastectomy, and through each chemotherapy treatment, I was a support system for her, as well as she was for me.

At each stage, I documented the transformation of my mother's physical body, as well as her feelings and emotions, through color photography and my own personal writing. Much of it may never be shared with anyone; it has been one way of facing cancer directly. Instead of running away from the pain, I dove into it, opening up everything for discussion and analysis as it occurred.

My intense focus on my mother during this time has made me aware of her incredible strength and determination, as well as my own. She and I, together, gave everyday objects new meaning and symbolism. These objects we will never view the same again.

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