Cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment participate in MAC’s ‘Direct Experience: Cancer and Art’

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Before she sat down for her first round of chemotherapy for breast cancer six years ago, Cheryl LeCroy had never attempted to make a piece of jewelry.

“I knew I wanted to focus on something outside of myself,” she said. “I wanted to focus on something other than the chemo chair.”

Using a kit that a couple of artist friends had put together for her, she spent the hours she was hooked up to chemo working with beads and wrapping wires. At the end of her six treatments, she had finished six pieces of jewelry, which she calls her “triumph jewels.” LeCroy, who is now cancer-free, enjoyed making jewelry so much that she continues to today.

“A lot of cancer survivors think about how do we most enjoy the time we have,” said LeCroy, who is a part of 6 Hands Studio, a creative collaborative in Easley. “For me, I love to spend time doing the things I love to do. There’s not enough time in this world to be doing something that doesn’t bring joy.”

“A lot of cancer survivors think about how do we most enjoy the time we have. For me, I love to spend time doing the things I love to do. There’s not enough time in this world to be doing something that doesn’t bring joy.” –Cheryl LeCroy

LeCroy is one of 14 artists participating in “Direct Experience: Cancer and Art,” an exhibition at the Metropolitan Arts Council through Feb. 23. All of the artists are either cancer survivors or going through treatment. The other 13 artists include JoAnne Anderson, Ellie Daniels, Jamie Davis, Carol Funke, Elisa M. Golden, Susanne Floyd Gunter, Christina Laurel, Monita Mahoney, Linda McCune, Joanna Morgan, Marilyn Murrell, Mike Stoner, and Carole Knudson Tinsley.

Tinsley, who curated the exhibit, said the idea for “Direct Experience” came when she told another artist that she had completed eight paintings that had to do with her own cancer journey. Tinsley’s breast cancer was discovered in 2015 during her annual mammogram. The pieces she has in the exhibit reflect the emotions she felt during her treatment.

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“There’s not anybody who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way,” she said. “I hope this show motivates people to try something — whether it’s art or yoga or music — to try something to help them get through it.”

Christina Laurel had just returned to Greer from her first artist residency in Paducah, Ky., when she discovered a mass in her breast.

Before she had left for her residency, Laurel had set aside a large door panel for a project when she returned. After her diagnosis, she did a collage and paper project on the panel. The piece, called “Pushed to the Periphery,” had a lot of neutral space and all of its color was around the edges. “Dealing with cancer had become my full-time job. I felt all the rest of my life was pushed to the periphery,” she said.

Within the last year, she began to use the panel as a worktable. “It feels transformative,” she said. “My art is no longer pushed to the periphery. I’m actually using it to create new art.”

“Direct Experience: Cancer and Art”
Where: Metropolitan Arts Council, 16 Augusta St.
When: Through Feb. 23
Admission: Free
Info: 864-467-3132 or greenvillearts.com

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