Art program brings community, fun to cancer survivors

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    Phyllis Anderson said nine women was a smaller-than-average turnout. "Sometimes this room is full," added Barbara Dunning.
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    Cathy Bruggeman (right) and LuAnn Thole use a coloring book to get inspiration for their subjects.
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    Daralee Beltz (right) and Julie Cole chat while designing their pieces.
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    Donna West (right) was creating art long before being diagnosed with cancer, while Phyllis Anderson was never interested in art before attending Expressions of Art and Hope.
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    When drawing their subjects, as Pamela Huie is doing here, the designs have to be backwards so they show up properly after being pressed onto paper.
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    Instructor Joy Ude helped the artists with any problems they might encounter. Here she's helping Barbara Dunning.
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    After making a design, the artists carved the design into a sheet of linoleum. Here, LuAnn Thole carves her duck design.
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    LuAnn Thole and Cathy Bruggeman roll paint onto their carved linoleum sheets while Phyllis Anderson waits.
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    Donna West (right) was the first to finish her carving, and is pressing the pattern from the linoleum onto paper.
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    Carving into the linoleum sheets was strenuous work, so Joy Ude (right) helps Phyllis Anderson press her design.
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    Daralee Beltz used her piece to show Husker pride.
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    Barbara King's piece reflected a cheerful message.
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    Donna West (left) and Pamela Huie prepare to roll paint onto their linoleum sheets. West had time to create two designs during the two-hour class.
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    The artists all made multiple prints of their pieces.
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    Expressions of Art and Hope allows these women to focus on creating art and community rather than dwelling on cancer.

On the second Monday of every month, a group of women gather in a classroom in the basement of CHI Health Saint Elizabeth to create ceramic tiles, paint watercolor cards, embroider monograms and participate in other art activities.

Some of these women have been making art their whole lives and some have only gotten into it recently, but what brings them all together is that they’ve all survived bouts with cancer.

The Expressions of Art and Hope program is the result of a partnership between Saint Elizabeth and LUX Center for the Arts. LUX sends an instructor to teach a different art project each month.

This month, the project was linoleum block printing, where participants carved a design into a block of linoleum, covered the block with paint and pressed the image onto a sheet of paper.

One participant, Phyllis Anderson, said this wasn’t a support group where they came to talk about cancer.

“We’re here to do art,” she said.

But community is an important part of Expressions of Art and Hope. Donna West said new people come to almost every class, but many of the artists come back each month to see what the new project will be and to spend time with other survivors.

While the artists worked, the room was full of talk and laughter.

Daralee Beltz said some of the participants go to Don and Millie’s for margaritas after each class, underscoring the value of community and friendship within this group.

“You gotta be good at something,” she said, “and we’re good at having fun.”

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