Voices Art Gallery: Current Show

image of a purple, red, black and white colored quilt

image of a cream, blue, red and black quilt
The Voices Art Gallery is located on level B1 of the Cancer Center Building. Driving Directions
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Oncoglyphs: The Language of Cancer by Susannah Elkin Zisk

September through December 15, 201

Susannah Elkin Zisk once wrote about her freedom as a fabric artist "to play with color, texture, and pattern. As I work I push myself to new and unexpected color combinations, placing scraps of fabric on my wall to gauge what works together. I know I've got it right when the colors start to sing."

After her diagnosis of breast cancer, Susannah’s quilted wall hangings with "colors that sing" became more than evocations of joy in creating new song lines. They became fertile soil for sowing/sewing Oncoglyphs, representations of life in the language of cancer.

Her first step in the process of creating the distinctive designs of these wall hangings was to photograph through a microscope the invading cells that were killing her. Silk-screening the photos on to her chosen fabric and cutting them up into patterns of her own devising, Susannah tamed the innate horror that they represented. As the cancer invaded and retreated, subsided and returned, while the patient underwent multiple medical and surgical treatments, the artist’s patterns gained in depth and complexity. Refusing to live life only as a victim of disease, Susannah Zisk became its signal artist.

The exhibition Oncoglyphs shares a very important story told by artist Susannah Elkin Zisk who documented her battle with breast cancer through the art of quilt making. Judith Elkin, the artist’s mother, noted, "After her diagnosis of breast cancer, Susannah's quilted wall hangings became fertile soil for sowing/sewing Oncoglyphs, representations of life in the language of cancer."

This exhibition is on loan through the generosity of her husband, Stephen Zisk and her mother, Judith Elkin.

The Voices Art Gallery is offered by the Cancer Center Art Therapy Program and is made possible by gifts to the Helen and Sonya Fund and the Cancer Center Art Therapy Program. Program supplies are generously supported by the Robert Bruce Dunlap Memorial Fund.

Learn more about how you can make a gift to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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