Three years ago, the Arthur Ross Gallery collaborated with the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania's Confronting Cancer Through Art exhibition, a collection of works by individuals whose lives had been touched by cancer. The show was a powerful learning experience for all involved. Not only did we receive an unexpectedly large number of entries in response to the call for submissions, but many artists accompanied their works with poetry, communicating very personal feelings in words. Many works took an unblinking look at the disease. But we also sensed that becoming involved in creativity meant that artists were transcending their own suffering and could even provide encouragement to others.
This year, the tenor of the works submitted to our second exhibition appears quite different. Artists creating works from their own illness are dealing with the disease, not a death sentence. New treatments and improved medical understanding have fostered new hope. Something else has changed. As people come together in greater numbers to share their fears, they learn ways of coping and share experiences of positive outcomes. Aspects of the disease are talked about as never before, with books and magazines devoted to the needs of their readership.
Potent forces are at work to stave off feelings of isolation and despair. Not least among them is the urge to create and the stimulus provided by an exhibition where artists can share their heartfelt creations with others. As we present Confronting Cancer Through Art, it is with a measure of gratification in contributing to a forum for purveying support and hope. We join in celebrating the importance of openness and communication in the fight of people against this disease.
Dilys Pegler Winegrad, PhD
Arthur Ross Gallery
University of Pennsylvania