JULIA B. FISCHER

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

Trophy to Myself steel 18 x 7 x 7 inches 1994

This piece did more than represent meaning; it created it. First conceived as a figure in, or mostly in, a box with parts protruding, this configuration turned into a victory piece, an affirmation that I could conquer cancer, and thus death, giving me control over life. I considered it an award to myself for knowing I could make it through cancer and beyond.

Untitled Steel 11.5 x 8 x 10 inches 1994


Untitled (detail)

A cross-country trip to the wilds of Alaska was cut short in Seattle. I thought I had parasites from my time in Mexico, but it was cancer, confirmed by a biopsy to be Hodgkin's disease Stage IIIB. Treatment was long and hard, and I felt quite weak. I went to a nutritionist and began a thorough food supplement program, which made an enormous difference in how I felt during treatment. I learned to weld. Before cancer, I knew sculpture was my primary interest but I hadn't made it a career choice. Now I know that is what I want to do, whatever it takes. This piece was made while I was sick, and I had in mind the figure as myself -- made of something strong, but floppy and vulnerable at the time. When the box is open, the hands represent the support of family and friends. Inside the box, which is my personal space -- my body, my mental space -- I painted blue, the color of the sky, to represent the expanse within. Only when one is open to the outside can one receive help from loved ones.

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