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Art Exhibit Features Local Cancer Survivors, Encourages Healing Environment at Seby B. Jones Cancer Center

Cancer survivors and caregivers from Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Wilkes and Caldwell counties, as well as Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center staff, were invited to share artwork they created during or after a cancer diagnosis. The collection contains artwork created by professional and amateur artists of all ages.
When talking about her painting entitled “Beyond,” cancer survivor and exhibiting artist, Tara Belk said, “Going through cancer and the healing process was truly a journey of the soul, learning much and it seemed passing into another realm of existence.”
Through art, individuals can share their stories in a different way, in a creative way, and in the process express emotions that words alone cannot. The process of viewing and/or creating art has been known to have beneficial effects for people, especially those living with cancer. In addition to providing a relaxing escape from treatment as well as anxiety and fear about the future, painting or drawing may help to express emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis. 
“We are excited to share the creative spirit of the artists through their art with our patients, their family members and our staff,” shared Kim Bianca, President of Watauga Medical Center.
Although not open to the public, the exhibit will be on display specifically for patients and staff at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in Boone from October 1 – December 31. Artists participating range from age eight to 80 and their artwork includes oil, acrylic and mixed media paintings, handmade lampshades, jewelry, quilts and collages.
In partnership with Watauga Arts Council, the Cancer Resource Alliance Art Committee has featured rotating art exhibits at the Cancer Center for the last two years. Local artists are invited to exhibit as a solo artist or in partnership with other artists. The works are chosen with the goal of integrating color, light and nature into the Cancer Center to provide a positive distraction for patients and their families.
The Colors of Hope exhibit is the first exhibit at the Cancer Center created by people who have been touched by cancer. They understand firsthand the impact it can have on someone who is dealing with the challenges of cancer treatment.
There is an increasing body of research documenting the effects of art for health benefits. “In medical/clinical settings, patients, family members and medical staff can benefit from the restorative and relaxing experience that can result from art making. Activities involving drawing, painting, and other visual media can help patients of all ages deal with pain, anxiety, and other challenges associated with illness and treatment.”
“My cancer journey began as soon as I retired and moved to the mountains. I found a lump in my breast and was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. My family and new friends jumped in and supported me in a two-year process that included surgery, chemo and radiation,” shared Mary Morgan, cancer survivor and exhibiting artist. “I never played so hard, shopped so much (calling it walking), and had never spent so much time with family and friends. Through it all, I was able to create beautiful lampshades. I found a new form of art that spread light in my house and in my life.”
For several years, Melanie Childers, Director of Pastoral Care Services for Watauga Medical Center has organized creative sessions for cancer survivors led by a master’s level intern or professionally trained in expressive arts therapy. The creative sessions are open to cancer patients who have received treatment at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center and are held at different times throughout the year. Two of the exhibit artists created their pieces during these sessions. For more information, contact Melanie Childers at mchilders@apprhs.org.
The Cancer Resource Alliance Art Committee continues to seek out local artists from Watauga and surrounding counties who wish to share their work. If you are an artist interested in exhibiting your work at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center contact artshealingsubmissions@gmail.com.
To learn more about Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, please visit apprhs.org/cancercenter/.