|Artist Deb Johnson, left, was paired with cancer survivor Marjorie Ebenezer so that she could learn about what it was liek to undergo radiation therapy and then use that knowledge to inform her work.
In May, the re-envisioned radiation masks made their public debut at Studios on High Gallery. The opening marked the first of several shows across the region.
The exhibit is known as “Courage Unmasked,” and it is an extension of the campaign by the same name that was founded by Bethesda, Md., resident Cookie Kerxton, who is also an artist and head and neck cancer survivor.
Kerxton conceived of the “Courage Unmasked” concept while undergoing radiation therapy and enlisted more than 100 artists to participate in the first event. The masks were displayed in September 2009 at American University in Washington, D.C.
Melinda Fenholt Cogley, executive director of Joan’s Foundation, the fundraising arm for Joan’s Fund, says the artists who participated in the Ohio project have expressed “a profound sense of responsibility” while creating the masks.
“They gave us an exhibit that’s beautiful, emotional and informative, and I just love watching people as they take in each story and realize what each mask means,” Cogley says. “Recently one person told me that we gave cancer a face that’s approachable, which was wonderful to hear.”
The small JBC contribution
I don’t feign to know a lot about art, and my scientific education has been informal and remains nascent. But I do sense that the act of discovery is often as rough around the edges as the paper fragments that constitute “Ascension,” Johnson’s mask, and I feel honored to have supported the Joan’s Foundations' mission, if only by facilitating a shipment of JBC back issues to Ohio.
Angela Hopp (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a science writer and handles public relations for ASBMB.