Judi and Irit: A Blossoming Friendship

 How did you become involved with Twist Out Cancer (TOC) and specifically, Brushes with Cancer? Can you tell us about any special meaning that your participation has held for you?

Judi:  If I remember correctly, I happened to see a post about it in a Facebook cancer group online but I don’t remember which one. To me, the idea that an artist will create something inspired by me and what I’d been through is so overwhelming and such a privilege. To share this journey with others is truly incredible.

Irit: For the last few years I have been looking for an organization to volunteer with. When I heard about Brushes with Cancer, I was immediately drawn to this special effort. I lost my young niece, Lital, to cancer a few years ago.  I am a true believer in emotional and spiritual therapy through art; working with Judi was a very meaningful experience for me.

Getting to know Judi was very impactful for me. She is a real fighter.  I admire Judi. Judi and I discovered that we both love and are fascinated by the ancient worlds, and especially ancient Egypt. As an artist I’ve been exploring Egyptian influences on my art, especially in the last two years. I read Judi final work for her B.A. ,which dealt with death in ancient Egypt. We discussed life in Egyptian times and the way they handled death, we had long and meaningful conversations about this.

What were you hoping to give and/or receive from the program?

Judi: I was hoping to share my experience, to grow, learn and heal. I was hoping to meet and learn from other survivors. The feeling that I am not alone is healing and inspiring.

Irit: Mostly I hoped to give Judi a lot of attention, to hug her and feel her in my heart. I wanted to see how our meetings and conversations have influenced my narrative art in lines, colors shapes and forms. I am excited to see my relationship with Judi has led both of us on a special adventure.

What most surprised you about your experience in the program?

Judi: I guess I was surprised by the immediate connection I felt with Irit. I felt so comfortable with her right away. And I knew I could trust her to create something real and true.

Irit: The most surprising thing was that through this work I felt emotional difficulties and I was surrounded by images that I really wanted to ignore. All of a sudden, I realized that the work I did during this period (scratching, etching and engraving on cork and wood) described the topic and was accompanied by ancient symbols from Egypt’s life. This work is dedicated to Judi and will be given to her, as a present and I’ll donate another piece of work to Brushes With Cancer that I made during this time. Judi was a strong inspiration for both works.

What are you most looking forward to at the big event?

Judi: I am really looking forward to seeing what all the artists have created. We all have different stories and it’s going to be amazing to see what each artist created on this journey.

Irit: My expectation is that this piece of art will be sold for a high price which will increase my donation to the organization.

What advice would you give prospective participants who are interested in getting involved?

Judi: I would say to future participants to feel free and honest with yourself. Believe that this journey can heal, inspire and give strength to keep being strong and proud of yourself.

Irit: The advice that I would give to prospective participants is to allow themselves the adventure of giving to others. The opening themselves up and the “give and get” processing can add a lot to their personal development.

 

 

Judi Hetzroni

Irit Bahalul

 Tickets are now on sale for Brushes with Cancer Tel Aviv. To learn information on the program and upcoming art exhibition and celebratory event, please check out our event website for fufther details.

Meet Judy and Nir- An Unexpected Friendship

Nir and Judy might never have crossed paths had they not been paired through Brushes with Cancer, and yet as soon as the connection was made, a journey of friendship and openness began. Nir, an extraordinary young Israeli dancer, happened to cross paths with Alona, the chair of Brushes with Cancer in Tel Aviv, and was immediately convinced that this was the platform for sharing her story.

Judy, a talented artist, heard about the program through conversation with her daughter, who has worked with Twist out Cancer in the past. And so, two separate paths converged and the bond of Artist and Inspiration was formed. Judy and Nir both agreed to offer a small taste of their journey prior to the unveiling of the final art piece at Brushes With Cancer in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, March 13.  We are so grateful to be able to share this amazing story of their experiences with Brushes With Cancer.

How did you feel compelled to participate in the program? What motivated you to be part of this journey?

Nir

“Being a dance and a performance artist and having my body and soul go through so much in the past four years, as a result of being diagnosed and treated for cancer three times, I felt so inspired to enter this process and this story as a material for an art piece. For me, dealing with breast cancer and all the body-mind-spirit alterations that goes along with, made me feel as if my very being, my body, my mind, my identity and personality are all some kind of material that keeps changing, being designed, played with, altered, danced with by outside and inside forces. It made me feel like myself and my life are fluid and flexible as if it was some kind of material or art piece that is in an unending creation process that is comprised of the ongoing interaction and synthesis between constantly changing me and constantly changing and unexpected circumstances. For these reasons I had a growing need to bring forth the intensity of this experience and the different views on life, on myself and my relationship with the world that resulted from this, and try to communicate to other people, to another artist and to myself- through art.”

Judy

“I felt compelled to participate in the program as I feel its goals are so important. I have done art programs with cancer patients in the past, and have a number of friends who have had cancer. The goal of building a personal connection with someone was appealing to me.”

What has the storytelling process been like for you so far? What has been your creative process been like?

Nir

“It’s been more like a mutual sharing process. We share our stories, we get to know each other. It’s become very quickly much more about the human connection and bond between us than anything else. But still, telling the story keeps revealing it to me in new ways, it’s like re-learning it, understanding and seeing it in even more new ways and in new light.”

Judy

“Initially the connecting process was quite difficult as Nir was still going through treatment. However after our first meeting I knew that I had met a truly unique and inspiring person who I wanted to get to know. My creative process is difficult to describe. I am constantly thinking about this project and wondering how to translate all of this into a meaningful piece of art. My making sketches, painting fabric and trying out different ideas. My medium is textiles, which is a bit more challenging. I also  prefer abstract rather than realistic art, which makes the artwork more difficult for a viewer to understand.”

What were you most nervous about regarding the process?

Nir

“I was nervous about what would happen if we didn’t click, or that maybe my experiences and views will be too much to take in, or that there will be some taboos, or that we will have an extremely different artistic taste. Also about letting go of my story (or the story of our meeting) to become a piece of art in someone else’s hands that I have no direct influence on.”

Judy

“I was most nervous about my ability to do justice to this amazing woman and her story.”

What are you most looking forward to?

Nir

“Of course to see the final artwork! But also to be a part of the first event in Israel. To be in the company of all the wonderful people that shared their time, stories, and their art in order to make this project happen. I look forward to sharing the artwork and the experience with my family and friends and whoever else will come to see or hear about the project.  Also to continue to be in touch with Judy outside the boundaries of the project and to continue to share experiences together.”

Judy

“I am looking forward to my continuing relationship with Nir. I feel that we have a lot to learn from each other, and we just have a good time being together.”

Is there anything else you would like to share/pass on?

Nir

“I would like to share that I think Brushes with Cancer is an extremely important project  because it takes the story of dealing with cancer – all its pain, fear, confusion, beauty, complexity, and life changing experiences – and makes it into soil, into fertile ground, into the  very seeds of a new creation in the world. I think that there is no better and healing way to experience ourselves and the meaning of our experiences than by sharing them.”

Judy

“However the final art piece turns out, I feel honored to be part of this unique process. It is a project I would like to continue participating in.”  This connection, and the others made through Brushes With Cancer, is what this project is all about. The ability to form unexpected connections, unbreakable bonds, and unparalleled platforms to share powerful experiences.

For more information on Brushes with Cancer Tel Aviv please check out our website. The first annual art exhibition and gala will take place on Tuesday, March 13th at Beit Andromeda in Jaffa, Israel.

This interview was written by Jacquie Zaluda, freelance writer and Brushes with Cancer Tel Aviv Host Committee Member. Check out Jacquie’s website to read more about her and her work.  

Meet Jacqueline Carmody, Brushes with Cancer Artist & Twist Out Cancer Board Member

About Jacqueline Carmody

Jacqueline Carmody is an Art Therapist based at the  Art Therapy Studio Chicago, LTD in Wicker Park. She also works as a freelance artist with the Fulton Street Collective and is currently working from home studio in Roscoe Village.Jacqueline uses art as a platform for communication and self-expression. She was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago and attended Western Michigan University for undergrad. She began studying painting in the Gwen Frostic School of Fine Arts, but quickly realized that the competitive art environment did not feel natural.  Jacqueline knew there was another path to share her artistic skills and sought out an art therapist as a mentor. Jacqueline graduated undergrad with a bachelors in Psychology and BFA in painting. She went directly into graduate school at Adler University to obtain her Master’s in Counseling and Art Therapy.

Jacqueline is currently a registered art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor. She is working in private practice in the Chicago area where she provides expressive therapy services to individuals, families, and groups. Jacqueline provides a safe space to unleash your creative potential and encourages art making as an effective way to discover solutions to life’s struggles.

Outside of her clinical work, Jacqueline continues to use art making as a form of self-care. She is a member of the Fulton Street Collective, and is creating original oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings from her home studio in Roscoe Village. Jacqueline engages with her work in a relaxed and curious way. Her work reflects her values of being present in the current moment and explores mindfulness based techniques.

Her Involvement with Twist Out Cancer

Jackie first became involved with Twist Out Cancer in 2013. Fresh out of graduate school, she had just moved into the city and was beginning her career as a therapist.  While browsing the internet for different art therapy opportunities and different areas to share her artistic skills, she stumbled upon Twist Out Cancer in a blog post!  She was intrigued by the combination of using art as a form of healing, communicating, and storytelling. Jackie, along with many others, have lost family members and friends to Cancer, and felt a special connection to Twist. She followed her intuition and reached out to the Founder, Jenna Benn Shersher. Jenna was so welcoming and excited to have her jump on board as an artist in the Spring event. She has since participated as in artist in 3 events, and 2017 will be her 4th.

The highlight of being involved with Twist Out Cancer has definitely been the personal connections. She describes having have formed unique relationships with people that she would never have met otherwise. As an artist, she is honored to be paired with such brave and amazing individuals each year. She is excited to meet other members in the community and see all of the beautiful creations at the event on Saturday, September 9th.

Jackie recently held a night of art therapy with current Brushes with Cancer participants at Therapy Studio Chicago in Wicker Park. Be sure to check out her blog on the experience and her artwork on her website.

You can also learn more about Jackie’s involvement with Brushes with Cancer through the Brushes with Cancer impact video.

A Collaboration All Their Own

Lauren Smoke felt a lump in her breast six weeks after she became pregnant with her first child.  Eight weeks into the pregnancy she received a call – the lump was malignant. Lauren, a healthy yoga and music teacher for children, vividly recalls the moment that she realized she had breast cancer. She feared the worst. Losing her baby.

Pregnancy is a period of physical and emotional challenges. For Lauren, pregnancy included surgery and chemotherapy. Lauren received support from a community of women who received breast cancer treatment while pregnant.

Lauren had a son, Nico. He was born at 35 weeks healthy.

After one year and a half of remission, October 2016, Lauren was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer that has spread to the Mediastinal lymph nodes.
Dr. David Turok has been an artist for Brushes with Cancer, a program of Twist Out Cancer that provides psycho-social support to those touched by Cancer to improve the quality of life for Cancer patients, their family and loved ones, through a unique art experience. He more recently joined the board this past July because of his strong belief in Twist Out Cancer’s mission and programs.

Dr. David Turok is dentist and an artist based in Chicago. A few years ago, David was inspired by a piece of art that his niece painted. He decided to use the work as the canvas and backdrop for a meaningful art experience that would involve the whole family. The experiment became the foundation for his highly successful venture called KidCollab, which provides a unique and impactful experience for parents and family members, where the children’s art serves as the canvas for David’s painting. His instincts have proven to be accurate, as he has received numerous requests for artwork is booked out months in advance.

David believes that Brushes has been one of the most rewarding and engaging experiences of his life.

Lauren and David both participated in Brushes with Cancer last year, and connected at an event where David advertised KidCollab. Lauren contacted him to commission a piece after her first battle with cancer; they reconnected after her second diagnosis.

Finishing Lauren’s painting is a priority. Recently, Nico painted the background, moving around the canvas creatively and freely. David and Lauren have a developed a connection throughout the process. He recalls Lauren, “sang the most beautiful version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star you have ever heard.” The painting will be an image of Lauren when she was pregnant with an elephant that has particular meaning to her and her family.

One of David’s favorite projects was created for Jenna Benn Shersher, Founder and Executive Director of Twist Out Cancer as a surprise. Jenna was diagnosed with Grey Zone Lymphoma at the age of 29. Therefore, there was an uncertainty regarding her ability to conceive a child. Her daughter is for all intensive purposes a miracle- and a blessing. For the piece, Jenna’s daughter, Noa Pearl, painted the canvas. The painting has an image of Jenna hula hooping, and  holding Noa, which represents the miracle of her birth.

According to Jenna, the piece serves as a constant reminder of how art can not only tell a story but serve as a tremendous catalyst for healing. David’s work hangs proudly in Noa’s room and is a constant reminder of the power of hope.

The connection that David and Lauren made after the Brushes with Cancer event showcases the power of the program and the importance of building community. Brushes with Cancer is not only about providing participants with a unique art experience, it is about building a supportive community that is there for them throughout their journey. Lauren, now facing her second bout with Cancer, has a community behind her that is ready to support her through every step.

To learn more about Brushes with Cancer and supporting our program please check our website for updated program details.