Surviving cancer through art

There are many ways to beat cancer. I used my art to get me through my breast cancer diagnosis.
I’ve been an artist all my life. I started painting with my Dad at the age of five. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I was lucky to have the support of my parents, who always encouraged my creativity. I studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn N.Y. During my time at Pratt, textiles captured my interest; colors and textures seemed to fit my creative personality, becoming one of the few people who dabbled in third-dimensional fiber art at the time, which stood out from my classmates’ drawings and paintings.
Right after graduatioon, I went to work in the theatre industry creating and building costumes for many of the Broadway shows of the 1980s including A Chorus Line, The Wiz, and Pippin. Shortly thereafter, I found myself working among frogs, bears, and pigs at Jim Henson’s The Muppets. For five years, I pinned, stitched, designed and created the puppets, costumes, and sometimes props that delighted children and adults alike. Some projects included Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and various Muppet movies and TV specials. From there I moved on to the other projects in TV, films, and later toy development, but as an independent artist my work has allowed me to examine and explore aspects of my life.
Many of my pieces are self-reflective. As a breast cancer survivor, my art has been instrumental in my healing. My love for bright colors, crazy and intricate patterns, and anything shiny and sparkly pushed me to create. My work speaks for itself through symbolism. In DOD (Day of Diagnosis), the phone symbolizes the wait. It’s day that anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer always remembers. In that piece there’s piece of embroidery that looks like a word search, but jumbled. The only word that appears is “Cancer”.
My Scars Tell a Story centers on art show about skin. It reflects my many surgeries and that I survived. The centerpiece is a doll with beads and embroidery providing the viewer with an idea of what this body has experienced.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes was a fun piece to create. This is about turning 50 and the many emotional and physical changes that women encounter when we hit the half-century mark. I took a different approach in the actual making. Instead of embroidering by traditional means, I placed the fabric on a lazy Susan, gave it a spin and see where it would land.
Brooklyn is My Tara. I grew up in Brooklyn. No matter where I an in the world, Brooklyn is home. When I’m there I notice the little things that create so much color and texure to each of the ni=eighborhoods—the fire escapes, the stoops, women sitting by their open windows To reflect that color and texture, I use several different fabrics, seed beadsm, and embroidery floss.
I’m Late was a piece that was submitted for a show on vessels. Like pieces of a puzzle, the vessel in this piece is a fabric covered teapot embellished with the face of Alice in Wonderland lamenting she can’t turn the clock back to another time. The high-heels represent cups, but also the mature woman, and the clock represents that famous teaparty among Alice and her myriad of odd friends.
Apart from my work, I belong to an art collective in Cincinnati, where I currently reside, and show my work a few times a year. I am also a member of TAFA ( Textile and Fiber Art List). I teach art at an elementary Montessori school. Our big project each year is creating a hand- stitched quilt.Grades 1-6 learn embroidery, embellishing and beading. I also teach in the summer at Chautauqua Institution. My business is called Dezignsofallkinds. For more informtion, you can find me on Facebook.