Cancer survivors share artwork in new Arlington Heights exhibition

  • Five artists who have battled cancer -- Jeri Davis, Eileen Powers, Michael Gallagher, Nancy VanKanegan and Richard Zeid -- will exhibit their works at The Empty Corner in Arlington Heights beginning Feb. 2.

    Five artists who have battled cancer -- Jeri Davis, Eileen Powers, Michael Gallagher, Nancy VanKanegan and Richard Zeid -- will exhibit their works at The Empty Corner in Arlington Heights beginning Feb. 2. Courtesy of The Empty Corner

 
 
Posted1/27/2023 6:00 AM

An Arlington Heights art gallery opens its latest exhibition next week with the works of five artists who have battled cancer and created drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures as a way of processing their experiences with the disease.

"Artoma: Metastasis; The Art of Cancer" opens at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, with an artists' talk and reception at The Empty Corner, 214 E. Grove St.

 
Interdisciplinary artist and educator Michael Gallagher's art piece of 52 walnuts represents the age when he was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate, which routinely is described as a gland the size of a walnut.
Interdisciplinary artist and educator Michael Gallagher's art piece of 52 walnuts represents the age when he was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate, which routinely is described as a gland the size of a walnut. - Courtesy of The Empty Corner

It's the third showing of "Artoma" following a successful opening of "Artoma: The Art of Cancer" in January 2020 at the Chicago Art Department in the city's Pilsen neighborhood, and "Artoma: Recurrence" in October 2021 at the Greenleaf Art Center in Rogers Park.

Liz Schrenk, who opened her Arlington Heights gallery and creative event space last August, said four artists who were part of the original exhibition and one new one will be part of the latest show -- all sharing their personal journeys through art.

"Our latest mounting of the show is called 'Artoma: Metastasis' because, like cancer often does, we are spreading into new spaces to share the work," Schrenk said.

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The artists are:

• Jeri Davis of Wheaton, who created "Greetings from Chemo Country," a coloring book about cancer;

• Eileen Powers of Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, who created the "Can You Make Hair For Me?" photo exhibition;

• Michael Gallagher of Chicago, whose art piece of 52 walnuts represents the age when he was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate, which is routinely described as a gland the size of a walnut;

Artist and educator Nancy VanKanegan's porcelain pieces reference scans of her tumor and lymph nodes.
Artist and educator Nancy VanKanegan's porcelain pieces reference scans of her tumor and lymph nodes. - Courtesy of The Empty Corner

• Nancy VanKanegan of Chicago, who layered clay, color and shape into porcelain pieces that reference scans of her tumor and lymph nodes;

• Richard Zeid of Evanston, a ceramist who used his hair lost during six rounds of chemotherapy when he got behind his potter's wheel.

The exhibition, which runs through March 31, will include various events to offer support and encouragement to those who have been impacted by cancer, Schrenk said. It's sponsored by the Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community Hospital Foundation.

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