TRESSA HAWKINS

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

The Memory Oil, acrylic, gauze on wood 12.5 x 6 inches 1995

I discovered that I had Hodgkin's disease as a 16 year-old senior in high school. I went through two surgeries and 10 months of chemotherapy before going into remission. Three-and-a-half years later, the cancer returned. This time, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy beat it back.

I began taking art classes six years ago, at the age of 30, when I became unable to work dependably. I continued creating, and held onto it when my husband died and I grieved. Art gave expression to what no words could contain.

And it still does. Only now, it fills me with the joy and lightness that come with moments of knowing that life is brief, frequently difficult, yet, very, very good.

Untitled Oil, acrylic, collage on paper 51 x 36.5 inches, framed 1993

This collage represents my triumph over cancer. The two pieces fit together, a body torn apart and healed. The top balances precariously on the bottom. It is rich, solid, and graceful. Dark colors swirl through the collaged pieces, and splashes of color emerge throughout. The body floats in a glowing light. It is me.

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