Thursday, October 11, 2012
Inspiration comes from a local artist and cancer SURVIVOR
“My experience caused me to stop and reflect on the frailty of life...”
East Texans will have a special look at local artist Claudia Lowery’s inspirational works during Main Street Second Saturday in Marshall in October. As the featured artist for the Art in the Window Exhibit at the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in Marshall, she will be displaying works from her breast cancer series entitled SURVIVOR Series created out of mixed media.
You will be able to view her beautiful works of art up and down the street and marvel at the artistic expression Claudia has taken with her personal experience in her fight with breast cancer one year ago. With October being breast cancer awareness month, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase the stunning art she has created that reminds us that this cancer affects millions of women and their families each year.
“I’m very honored and excited. Marshall is advancing progressively in a positive direction, and the fact that they support visual art by sharing their space speaks volumes to me and other artists,” Claudia said. “In addition to the Art in the Window Exhibit in October, if the weather permits, I will have about 15 pieces from the SURVIVOR Series displayed in downtown Marshall along North Washington during the Fire Ant Festival on Second Saturday. Area artists will also be creating banners for Touch of Pink, a Marshall based organization providing financial support for women battling breast cancer,” she explained.
Because of her experience with cancer which resulted in a mastectomy, she realized just how fragile life is. “I had a very rare type of cancer called a phyllodes tumor that occurs in less than 1% of women. It appeared and grew rather quickly, as I found it myself during a routine self-exam. One month it was not there, the next month it was,” Claudia said. A lumpectomy was arranged, and the results came back positive for cancer. Because it is a type of cancer that is rare, there is not much data available, and it doesn’t usually respond well to chemo or radiation. The only option left was a mastectomy. Her recovery went smoothly.
“My experience caused me to stop and reflect on the frailty of life. My mother died during those months while I was dealing with it. She had Alzheimer’s and so was not aware of what I was coping with. I also lost my stepbrother and stepdad. Frankly, the surgery I went through almost seemed simple compared to all of that. When I look back now, it seems like a blur, but that’s because of how many prayers and loving thoughts were expressed during those hard days. My co-workers at Sam Houston Middle School in Marshall, Crossroads Baptist Church, and all of my art community rallied to support me,” she said.
As an artist, she quickly felt the need to create something about her experience. When you view Claudia’s SURVIVOR Series, you are seeing something that was created out of that personal experience.
“The first thing I felt was an urgency to create right at that moment. Time is a valuable commodity, and all I could think of was that we have no idea how much time we have, so I’d better get busy,” she explained. When the first piece in the SURVIVOR Series was created, she didn’t expect to do any more. But as soon as she finished it, ideas began to come to her and, before she knew it, she had a collection of artwork that shared her ordeal.
“I choose a white or black background based on what type is needed to enhance the artwork. I have painted, collaged, and carved them. Some have a right, left or both breasts removed. My feeling is this: each one should spark something inside the viewer in a way that they can identify with it. Maybe they’ve never had breast cancer, but maybe someone they cared for did. Maybe they died, maybe they survived. Either way, they lived with having cancer. They had to survive the ordeal – the process, the stigma, the pain, the joy, the loss, the gain. There is so much you experience it can’t be measured,” she explained.
“My art is but a small reflection – my statement – that regardless of your experience, you are still here now, and you are beautiful. The best part of you is inside of you, and it’s NOT your breast – it’s your heart,” she explained.
Claudia also creates work in other mediums such as clay, painting, photography and mixed media collage. Aside from her SURVIVOR Series, she’s also working on a series entitled Music that invokes images inspired by classical, rock, local, and regional musical artists. Claudia also has another series in the works entitled River of Dreams where rivers are depicted in surreal or unusual themes. You can read more about her art and view her pieces on her website.
Claudia has written a poem that she provides with each of her pieces of art in the SURVIVOR Series.
I’M STILL HERE
The breast is gone,
but I’m still here-
my self intact, reflective, amused
at the hub-bub surrounding
this piece of flesh.
I’d like a pair, but if not there
I’ll redouble my joy,
find the nonsense in it all
and reach to feel the empty space,
adjust the smile…no saddened face
few have noticed.