Currents: A Short Journey With Melanoma

One of my pieces, Currents, is currently in an art show in Highland Park, just north of Chicago. The show focuses on cancer and so I wanted to share an expanded version of my artist’s statement about this piece because it is particularly meaningful to me:

I am lucky. I found I had melanoma and within a week knew it was stage I, easily removed. But for seven days I had no idea how far it had spread and what the outcome would be. Was I looking at a five-year outlook? Three? Would my youngest son have no more than vague memories of me? Since I knew someone who had passed away from this cancer, my fear really started to get the best of me—I felt as though I had been swept away by currents far beyond my control. Quickly though (everything had to be quick! I might die tomorrow!) I felt a decision take hold: If I was indeed stuck in a current, I would not waste my time fighting it. I would do what you’re supposed to in a riptide: not swim directly against it, but instead swim parallel with the shore until you’ve broken free. So instead of exhausting myself in a swarm of disbelief, anger, and frustration, I would instead embrace my new reality, and do my best to find joy and love with the people surrounding me.

To honor this concept, I created a histological portrait of melanoma, painted to resemble the undulating currents of the sea.

I know my experience cannot compare to other people’s cancer horror stories. It was just a blip in my history, rather than an all-consuming, life-eating event. But when I paint I do my best to put myself in others’ shoes, and that taste of mortality enabled me to do so even more than usual. My heart goes out to everyone swept away by the despair of cancer. I hope you find some sort of joy to embrace despite the current you're caught in.

Details about the show:
Voice and Visions Art Show
The Art Center Highland Park
On display 8/14 - 9/26
Outdoor Artist’s Reception: Friday, September 11 5:30-8pm

Melanoma Cancer Watercolor Painting
Currents, a melanoma cancer watercolor painting