MARTHA HAMILTON

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

Frederick's Ferret soapstone, polyester, gold, wood, chicken feathers 26 x 28 x 12 inches 1995

Bonding with a "familiar" has for eons assuaged loneliness and promoted vigor and healing in the human partner. This image honors our companion animals' solace at times of our intransigent pain and fear.


Koi Transcendent black pearl soapstone 16 x 19 x 16 inches 1993

The sculptured fish is developing into a bird as a metaphor for spiritual growth, development of philosophic strength, and flexibility. This transcendence must be sought when confronting one's own death or a beloved's.

Nothing in my considered interior life or loving domestic and social hustle presented weapons for the horror of my mother's undiagnosed meningioma as it began to change her personality: this mysterious six-month-long disappearance, then death, of my strongest mentor, my battling equal from my teens, and my new best friend since turning 21 only six years before.

I'm gut certain my mother wouldn't have been prone to cancer had she worked at her art, which she pursued until her technical mastery and creative will were preempted and she poured her energy into my father's career. Did her body's defenses weaken with her ego? Did her immunities fail after 30 years of not-painting?

I fend away cancer by plying my art. While rasping and polishing, I can let myself calmly experience my aching losses. The work heals me.

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