NOW by Susan Boecher
The shock, fear, and disbelief one feels after receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult to articulate. Those who have cancer or overcome it understand the vulnerability, uncertainty and emotional rollercoaster that it creates. Once diagnosed, to remember life as assumed and normal is no longer an option.
In November 2015, I was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, a value-laden cancer that is the most fatal of all cancers. It accounts for approximately 1 in 4 cancer deaths annually and was expected to cause 158,080 deaths in 2016.
At the time, the doctors were encouraged by the size and timing of discovering the node. They suggested a possible curative outcome and prescribed an aggressive six-month treatment plan that included chemotherapy and radiation to both lung and brain. Despite their optimism my response was quite the opposite: anger, sadness, fear, disbelief, shock, confusion and an overall lack of control. Although I thought that a variety of profound experiences had taught me resiliency and mindfulness, this diagnosis was, in some sense, the most difficult because it forced an immediate examination of my own mortality and death in a manner that felt real and more imminent. Because social issues and personal experience have always inspired my creative work, I knew I had little choice but to use my diagnosis to create a new body of work.
NOW is an installation of color photographs and three-dimensional objects which presents the physical and emotional transitions I encountered during both private and public moments while in treatment and recovery. This work attempts to challenge conventional notions of cancer by presenting a perspective that is in turn personal, investigative and confrontational but also playful, positive and at times irreverent.
While a series of self-portraits simultaneously depicts horror and disbelief, other prints present the inescapable nightmares, dreams, and fantasies that have been equally pervasive. An installation of radiation masks as wall mounts, mounds of fallen hair and broken eggshells challenge the viewer to confront the harsh realities during and after treatment. Cancer fortune cookies, Wooly Willy and Magic Eight Balls, all childhood games of chance, lend a playful air and provide a less weighty perspective of cancer.
NOW challenges traditional cancer perceptions and stigmas attached to cancer with a non-traditional creative approach. It presents evocative visuals with elements of play to underscore life’s uncertainty without being cathartic or overly sentimental.
A year and a half after diagnosis, I now live in three-month increments where CT scans determine my next step. As a result I have developed a profound appreciation and gratitude for time, strive to assume little and take even less for granted.
With cancer there is no looking forward or turning back, only NOW.
Susan Boecher’s creative practice spans over 20 years and continues to emphasize social research and activism through community-driven photography. She established OverExposure, a media arts nonprofit that partners photographers with nonprofit groups on theme-specific photography projects.
I Want to Believe
June 9 – August 4, 2017
Christensen Center Art Gallery
In 2015, Brandon Kuehn received the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. He traveled around the state of Minnesota documenting and creating original artwork about the state’s paranormal stories, myths, legends, and more.
What is the difference between what we know and what we believe?
The Hopi people of the Southwest United States believe they were seeded by Kachinas or ‘Star People’ in their ancient past, and their descendants look today at the sky and await their return. Similar stories influence numerous cultures, both past and present, and have given rise to thousands of “UFO Religions,” around the world. I Want to Believe is a look at the iconography of the UFO phenomenon and its impact on our collective subconscious.
Brandon Kuehn is an artist and educator who received his BFA from the U of M, Twin Cities, and his MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design. In 2014 and 2016, Brandon curated The Art of Darkness: Inspired by the Paranormal, at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley. He has exhibited his own artwork nationally, and in 2015, he received a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant for his work: The Paranormal Art Project www.paranormalartproject.com.
June 9 – August 4, 2017
Gage Family Art Gallery
Reception: Friday, June 9, 6 – 8 p.m.
Placing her cancer interior and exterior into a creative context, NOW, is a series of photographs, sculptures, and design work that presents the physical and emotional transitions Boecher encountered during her cancer treatments in 2015. It presents a nontraditional perspective of living with cancer that is not only cathartic and direct, but also provocative, playful, and at times irreverent.
Funding for this activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
The concept for Revisionaries first existed as a digital experiment between three artists in the form of Precarious Worlds, a show for the online gallery platform Gallery Gray, in 2011. In this remix, there is a chance to re-contextualize ideas that were first uncovered in the potential space created in the digital show and a chance to inject new ideas through experimentation and collaboration that can only take place in the physical space offered in the gallery.
As artists, our artworks share an interest in saturation: a tendency towards decoration through pattern, layers of color, information and fragmentation. Angela Zammarelli uses fabric, cardboard, and herself to make sculptural objects and installations. Melissa Wagner-Lawler uses digitally layered text and pattern to create a visceral, delicate surface on the page that takes the form of artists books and works on paper. While, Tim Abel uses printmaking, papermaking, and sewing to make sculptural paperworks that vary in size from the handheld to large-scale installations.
Tim Abel is a paper-based artist and community art educator living in Wisconsin.
Melissa Wagner-Lawler is a printmaker and bookmaker who resides and teaches in Milwaukee, WI.
Angela Zammarelli is an artist living in Massachusetts who creates environments with found materials coming from free piles, trash/recycling, and hand me downs.
All three received their MFAs from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Photographic work by Gina Dabrowski looks at contemporary landfills as well as re-purposed sites to explore the relationships between people and their belongings. The large-scale prints examine the business of waste disposal through the lens of a 4×5 camera.
In my landfills project, I use photography to capture the residue of people’s presence, which is preserved in man-made landscapes composed of garbage. I photographed re-purposed landfills using a large format camera and film. The resulting color photographs look at old dump sites located on the boundaries of our daily life, as well as the people who dispose of their personal belongings.
Gina Dabrowski is a visual artist who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and teaches at North Hennepin Community College. She received her MFA in Photography and Video from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), as well as a Master of Art in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Gina has received awards of support from the McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship for Photographers, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. For the McKnight Fellowship, Gina gave a presentation on her Landfills project at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.