OncoLink

CAROL HAMOY

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

Diary multimedia 20 x 98 x 1.5 inches 1988-89

My brilliant and beloved husband, Sam, was diagnosed with terminal cancer on December 17, 1987. Malignant tumors had attached themselves to his spinal column. Not only did he quickly lose the ability to walk, but remembering details became an anxiety-provoking exercise as well. So he kept a diary in an effort to control, in some small way, the progress of his disease.

On June 6, 1988, Sam died at 12:30 in the afternoon, surrounded by his loved and loving family.

So, what do you do with your grief? For me, an artist, the answer was clear. I put it into my work. "Diary" makes use of some of the "stuff" Sam collected. Overlapped onto the works are the original pages from the diary he kept during his illness.

Torn Heart I & II Mixed Media 20 x 98 x 29 inches 1988-89


In Sephardic Jewish tradition, people's clothing (a sleeve or pocket) is torn to mark them as mourners. The sound when the sleeve of my dress was ripped - I can still hear it - was as though my heart was being torn. "Torn Heart" uses bits of my clothing and an old tallit of Sam's in an attempt to visually replicate the sound.

After Sam's death, making art aided my healing. I became obsessed with being in the studio. As a survivor of cancer (in a way), making art relieved me of the pain I was experiencing and helped me to step back into my different life with a familiar friend by my side -- my art.