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

Deep Blue

Deep Blue
unstretched canvas, acrylic, grommets
75 x 75 inches

In 1994, I had both ovarian and breast cancer. I continued to paint between surgeries and chemotherapy. During this time, my paintings grew to be as large or larger than myself, and there was a new subject that reflected the challenge of these illnesses. The new subject was that of formation. In each painting, images arose from simple lines and shadings on the canvas surface to become entities as complex as living things. Making these paintings about formation provided me with visible evidence that I was remaking myself into something of substance again.

Big Blue

Big Blue
unstretched canvas, acrylic, grommets
63 x 75 inches

For the last 10 years, I have painted four days a week and practiced veterinary medicine for three to support my art. My medical work has heavily influenced the images in my paintings. Strangely enough, the greatest effect on my work came from three years of research on animal cancers with the scanning electron microscope. The immersion in this world of elemental, living structures changed my images from geometric to organic structures.

"Big Blue" was the first painting about organic images forming from simple alterations on the canvas surface, a reflection of my efforts to rebuilt myself after my cancers.


The Power of a Cancer Support Group
by Bob Riter
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