Anne Toland & Ann Rene Alexander
Ann Alexander
“On Wings of Hope”
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The Story
Anne Toland
Anne Toland
Pittsburgh, PA
Breast Cancer Survivor
Twist on Cancer: Make the most of every moment and focus on the NOW. Avoid toxic situations or people. Prioritize your activities, as life is short! Cancer rocked my world and forever changed me! Being an optimist, I hoped for the best and emphasized the priorities in my life. Carefully dedicating my limited energy and time remaining is quite challenging, but highly rewarding. Family and friends are most meaningful. Enjoyable activities are also first and foremost! Focusing on today and not the future is my new way of being. Realizing life’s small treasures in the present is a joy, and I so appreciate that I have had such in the past. Support mattered and still does, and comes from unexpected sources!
Ann Alexander
Anne Rene Alexander
Social Media: @sweet.annie.renee
“On Wings of Hope”
36" W x 48" L x .5" D
Artist Statement: ON WINGS OF HOPE is the title of the work of art inspired by my new, dear friend, Anne, and her outlook on life beyond cancer. Using her favorite flowers, colors and symbols, I blended them into a visual tapestry to convey her love of life, her joy and her hope. I wanted to focus on the bright beauty, warmth and comfort she found in family and gardens during her darkest days. The butterfly is a symbol of resurrection and has deep meaning for Anne. It is colorful, light, and fleeting like life, and it became the theme. I decided to “paint” with wool.
Though new to me, it is a centuries-old technique called “felting.” Using only wisps of unspun wool and a tiny barbed needle, I created a butterfly-shaped garden. The body of the butterfly was made to look like a tree blooming in the center of a garden. It represents the Family Tree and its roots. Hidden among its branches is the word “H-O-P-E.”
Anne wanted me to include my own “Brushes with Cancer” into the artwork as well. I embedded a tiny turtle charm along the bottom back wing to represent my beloved brother, who we lost after months of fighting an aggressive form of brain cancer. I selected a sunflower to represent my son, who, last year, discovered a tumor on his tongue. After surgery and months of radiation, he is now, thankfully, doing well. On the bottom of the right wing, I inserted a dime, in memory of Anne’s mom. With each of these, I added a tiny jingle bell to evoke the sound of joy.
In a nod to our names, I captured a sprig of the fragrant herb, Sweet Annie, inside the back of the tree and embedded a real Queen Anne’s Lace blossom by my signature. In spite of the countless hours, the backaches and the occasional finger poke, I enjoyed every minute of creating this work of art and was able to work on much of it outside among the flowers. Along the way, I took pictures and videos to share with Anne so she could be as involved as possible.
The work itself is versatile; it can be a wall tapestry, draped on a sofa, or worn as a wrap. But my favorite way to envision its use is as a comforting shawl. As the wings of the butterfly wrap around the wearer, they can feel the warmth, touch the softness, see the colors, smell the scent, hear the bells, and transport themselves into the peace of a lovely garden.
I sincerely hope it reminds whoever receives it that no matter what they are going through, there is hope. And my deepest prayer is that soon there will be no more cancer to endure ever again. I send up my prayer on wings of hope…