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September 30, 2013 • 09:13:38 a.m.

Art depicts couple’s journey with cancer

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

"Hot Flashes" is part of "A Journey: Two Views Life With Cancer" at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park's First Fridays exhibit. (Photo provided)

An upcoming art exhibit tells the story of what it's like to go through cancer as both a patient and a caregiver.

When Arthur Hand's wife, Janette Maley, was diagnosed with cancer, she asked him to photograph her as she began treatment and fought the disease.

At the same time, Maley, a painter, began creating collages of the experience.

She wanted to portray not what cancer looked like, but what it felt like, Hand said.

That continued for eight years before Maley's death in 2006.

The photographs and artwork now make up "A Journey: Two Views Life with Cancer" exhibit to be displayed from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday through the Lakeside Legacy Foundation's First Friday Art Show at the Dole Mansion, 401 Country Club Road.

"It's simply about a woman's journey through cancer and the different stages and emotions and treatments," said Hand of North Aurora.

He sees it as important for anyone who's ever been touched by the disease in any way.

Support typically abounds when someone is diagnosed with cancer, he said, but often that support eventually dwindles.

"At a certain point, that rallying starts to dissipate, and people are left to deal with things on their own," he said. "What this is is a reminder that continued support is needed. It's also support for the people going through it and the caregiver. The caregiver is a pretty lonely job."

The display consists of 95 photographs and 45 collages. Hand has published a book of the work available through Blurb.com, with any profits beyond the cost of the books going to cancer research. 

As part of the First Friday art show, guests are invited to view the art, mingle, listen to music, explore the Dole Mansion and enjoy light appetizers and a cash bar. The event is free, but donations to the Lakeside Foundation are appreciated.

At the upcoming exhibit, Hand will offer an artist talk in which he speaks of the making of the artwork, as well as the journey he and his wife experienced.

"It's not all morbid," he said. "She had a pretty full life going through it. I think I would say that."

The exhibit has been displayed elsewhere, including many universities, and the photographs were awarded the "Golden Light Award" from the Maine Photographic Workshops. 

It is Hand's goal to eventually give the exhibit a permanent home. 

Married 33 years to Maley, Hand said the exhibit still brings up memories and emotions, but it's become more of a story that others should experience.

"I think it's just something that evolved, and it's been received well and it's a disease that doesn't seem to be going anywhere right now," he said. 

Those who've seen the exhibit have included women battling cancer, he said.

"Women would walk up to Janette's collage [and] say, 'That's what I feel like right now,' or 'That's what I felt like,' " he said.

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