Meet Brad Young, Brushes with Cancer Featured Artist

 


MEET Brad Young, father, artist, and carpenter. His background in art is varied and spans multiple expressions including pastel, music, drawing, painting, and sculpting. “I consider myself more of an artistic soul than a master of a certain art form.” Brad says. “I have found interest in all mediums and I appreciate all forms of art. I was in a band when I was young, and I took some art classes, but I am mostly self-taught, I guess.” he explains. Brad has done two Brushes with Cancer events; one in Chicago and one in Ann Arbor.

“I was introduced to the program by Bowen Kline, who is one of my closest friends.” After attending the launch party in November of 2014 for the Chicago 2015 event, Brad found Brushes to be “inspiring”, and a great use of art. “Art is often used to express only the artist’s point of view on things, and in that way, art can be very selfish. I liked the idea that this program was focused on beautiful things: survivors and strength and resilience and that it requires the artist to be selfless and tell someone else’s story.”

Young says the biggest benefit of the program is the opportunity for people to come together in a beautiful way and find strength, hope, and love in one another through something that is very difficult. “Strength because you see the amount of people that have been affected, and there is comfort and community in that. Hope and love because we pour ourselves out to each other and support each other.” he emphasizes. Both times Brad participated, he used his woodworking skills to create very unique pieces for the art exhibition. Though he is not creating a piece for the upcoming Chicago gala in May, his piece “Healing Harp” from the Ann Arbor installment will be featured and auctioned off there.

“The biggest lesson I learned from all of this is that the Universe makes sure that we are in the right place at the right time. That sometimes things don’t make sense in the moment, but there’s a reason for everything that happens, even when it’s hard or sad. These are the things that shape our character into who we need to be.” He then speaks about his first subject and survivor, August Spree, who became very dear to him throughout the process of being paired in the Brushes program, “I just think about the big picture: if August had never been affected by cancer, we would never have met. If I had decided not to check out this program with Bowen, we would never have met. The amount of things that I have learned about myself and about life and love is priceless, all because I participated in [the] Brushes [program].” He goes on to say, “It might seem like a small thing, like it did to me at the very beginning, but it has already had a big affect on my life. I think that’s a big deal.”

Brad says to anyone who is looking into the Brushes program, “It’s a great opportunity to participate in something bigger than yourself. It can potentially help you and help someone else greatly – this program has a positive impact on a lot of people. To an artist, I would say it is one of the most beautiful ways to gift somebody with one of your talents.”

Meet Brushes with Cancer Featured Subject and Host Committee Member August Spree

MEET August Spree, a mother of three, dancer, writer, and cancer survivor. August was introduced to Twist Out Cancer at the Chicago Brushes event in 2013. After the event brought her to tears, she walked up to Jenna (the founder) and declared “Hi, we are going to be friends!”. Weeks later, they were having coffee and discussing what ways she could be involved. She has since been a featured subject in two events, and will also be a subject in the upcoming Chicago event in May.

August was diagnosed with a rare form of fatty tissue cancer at 27 years old, and since then has been passionate about working with organizations that are helping support those who battle cancer. “The Brushes program was particularly poignant to me because it brings art and expression into the connection and healing process.” she says. As an artistic person herself, she found that music, dancing, and writing helped her get through her own struggle and strongly believes in the role that all mediums of art can have in helping survivors and caregivers through their experiences. She participated the first time as a survivor and was paired with Brad Young, an artist who created a sculpture to represent her story. “It was such a beautiful experience because I knew going in that I would need to share my story with this person, and I trusted that he would create something beautiful out of it. Being able to share your struggles with someone and have them see it as inspiration is incredibly freeing.” She also mentions that through that first participation, she met the love of her life. “Results are not typical!” she laughs.

After that first participation, August began helping on the host committee. “This program is so unlike any others that I have been involved in because of how it brings the art community and the cancer community together. That connection is beyond words… The subjects have to take that step, that leap of faith, and be open to sharing, and trust that they will be heard. Then, these artists are able to take this trauma, this thing that many would consider such a dark thing, and they create. They take inspiration from it and they create something beautiful. That is the metaphor here – and it is also literal. Life’s dark moments have beauty in them and that is what this program does – it demonstrates that so clearly.”

To anyone thinking of being involved with this program in any capacity, August says “DO IT. Seriously. I mean, be sure you are prepared to be open – whether you are an artist, or a subject, you have to enter in with an open heart ready to share, ready to hear. But definitely do it!” She says that if you aren’t quite sure about whether you want to participate, then try attending an event first. “Go to one of the events. Bring a trusted friend. See the art, hear the stories, talk to the people. I guarantee once you experience this, you will want to be a part of it, like I did.”