The Arthur Ross Gallery seeks to involve disciplines from all over the university in art and exhibition. Our search for a project that might relate the art of medicine to artistic creativity, together with the vision of the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is responsible for this exhibition by and for people whose lives have been touched by cancer.
An invited jury composed of art historian Gerald Silk, artist Becky Young, and curator Judith Tannenbaum, associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Art, reviewed more than 300 entries from 125 artists. The show expanded into a second exhibition space; the production of a multi-media component permitted the inclusion of other artists and works.
Until a few decades ago, the illness could barely be mentioned in the family let alone shared with outsiders. That is no longer the case. In expressing feelings that profoundly affect us as human beings, the works transcend particular suffering to speak to universal experience. They express a full range of emotions and responses: anger and rage, courage and endurance, sorrow and resignation, love and sympathy. Some cast an unflinching eye on the interior world of cancer and its effect on the human body. Others suggest a sharpened awareness of and appreciation for the outside world. All show the importance of the creative process in coming to some sort of terms with disease.
The artists have our admiration and thanks for agreeing to describe, as well as to show, the important role of their art in facing adversity. Through their works and their words, they touch us directly, whether or not our own lives have been touched by cancer.
Dilys Pegler Winegrad, PhD
Arthur Ross Gallery