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Collages and Ceramic Sculptures

collage of Japanese-style illustrations
copyright Eileen Mollen

college of Hispanic-style illustrations
copyright Eileen Mollen

Collages by Eileen Mollen and
Ceramic Sculptures by Alexander Clinthorne

April through May, 2014

About the Artist: Eileen Mollen

The worlds of caregiver/provider and patient collided at the moment of my own cancer diagnosis. I know that my experiences with patients gave me perspective, courage and coping strategies to get through my own treatment. And I believe that my experiences as a patient inform deeper compassion for my current work.

The combination of the long cancer experience, a newly empty nest (I was diagnosed a week before my youngest went off to college), the parallel diagnosis and subsequent death of my sister from the same type of cancer, and my climb back to health left me shaken. Through compassionate and insightful discussions and encouragement from my husband and friends, I grew to recognize my once-dormant longing for creativity.

A year ago, serendipity led me to mixed media collage. These pieces express my range of feelings in looking back on my cancer experience. They include the powerful connections women share during healing; emotions about body image and hair loss; fears of recurrence; and the unwavering support of my family. These works incorporate my love for textiles, texture, color, flow, and trusting the creative process to guide me. My art has become a metaphor for allowing curiosity to unfold for the next third of my life.

ceramic sculpture of a shell
copyright Alexander Clinthorne

ceramic sculpture
copyright Alexander Clinthorne

About the Artist: Alexander M. Clinthorne

Several years ago, I became obsessed with the forms of dried curling leaves. After exploring several variations of leaf forms I moved on to explore insect exoskeletons. I began to see striking similarities between dried leaves and insect exoskeletons. Both subjects represent a transitional stage in nature; they are physical remnants of change. This discovery helped me focus my exploration on a single concept, that of transition.

In July of 2013, I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma. Since then, I have been coming in for treatment at the University of Michigan Hospital. Cancer diagnosis was really shocking for me and my family. For the first time in my life I have felt uncertainty about my future plans. Creating these "Transitional Leaf Exoskeletons" helps me keep in mind that this is a transitional period in my life and all of nature is constantly changing.

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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