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Courage Unmasked for Victims of Head, Neck and Throat Cancers

About 50 artists in Nashville and the surrounding area created masks made from the radiation masks used in treating patients with head, neck and throat cancers for the Courage Unmasked Show. When the editor of Nashville Arts Magazine asked me if I wanted to make a mask to be donated and auctioned off at a Vanderbilt Gala, I of course said “Yes!” I had just learned about my sister’s breast cancer and was thrilled to help any cause that might help the victims of cancer. The money raised went to the patients themselves who couldn’t cover the exorbitant bills that came with their treatments.

There were beautiful masks at the opening reception held at OZ in Nashville on September 27, 2014. I got to go with Mike and Jodi Wolfe….friends from Leiper’s Fork, TN….and Mike Wolfe (from American Pickers TV show) did an amazing job auctioning off the masks. He gave a heartfelt talk that made me cry.

I used mixed media to create this mask. I don’t know whose this mask belonged to, but I felt that the person had throat cancer and that their healing took place in the fall. So I entitled it, “Autumn Healing.” I found a rock on a walk that I liked and wrapped it in copper wire and placed it over the throat area. There is a bird nested on the head which to me represents rebirth. I hope this patient healed under the capable hands of the Vanderbilt team.

This was a very moving process to hold the mask that someone had pressed on their face whilst they underwent radiation treatments. I spoke with a patient at the gala event and he described how claustrophobic it is to be held under this mask, unable to move at all for a long time. I imagined what must have gone through the mind of this person, Will I live or will I die? 

The sponsors of the exhibit came before the auction and chose 3 masks to keep. I’m honored to say that one of them was mine. Thank you to David Heustess who organized all the art for the show which will be up for several weeks at the Sarratt Gallery on the Vanderbilt Campus.

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