Friday, November 29, 2019


This is the collage that I did for the Cancer LifeLine Show that is currently open in Seattle.  Cancer LifeLine clients/cancer survivors were tasked with writing poems.  The NW Collage Society members selected poems from the group and created collages to represent the poem or something in the poem.

The poem I selected was about the death of Bristol, a female aged 12 or 13.  I was not quite sure of the age because of the way the poem was written.  In the poem the mother (this is going to be very sad) watched her “daughter” be misdiagnosed and then diagnosed with cancer on the bone.  Originally it was thought the cancer was in the lung.  The “daughter” died five days later.

So as you see I have 13 girls plus the mother watching over the girls in my piece. One of the girls is whiter than the others to represent the question as to the appropriate age.  I attended the reception for the show.  I saw three women surrounding my piece and chatting about it as I walked through the gallery.  I got the idea that one of women was the poet.

So I went up to the women a bit later as they were still by my piece and asked if one of them was the poet.  Indeed, one of the women was.  Her partner or business partner, I was unsure, started talking to me right away.  Come to find out the “girl” in the poem was not human after all.  The poem was written about the poet’s Pomeranian.  Yup!  A dog!

I can not tell you how much I agonized over this poem and my piece.  I changed the collage so many times because I wanted to get it right, at least my interpretation.  I asked others to read the poem and everyone agreed I could not have known it was about the death of a dog.  Everyone thought it was a human girl aged 12 or 13.

I offered the collage to the poet if she wanted it.  She did not say yes or no.  She barely could get out a thank you.  I also told her I would donate the collage to Cancer LifeLine if she did not want the piece.  I still do not know what will happen.

I would share the poem with you if I could but I do not have the permission of the author.   One just never knows what will transpire in any one day.  Every day has events that come as a surprise.


jacki long said...

Wow! That just proves how differently people see and act?
I can see the work and care you put in, good job, John.

Elsa of Lake Forest Park said...

I must say I had a laugh over this and wondered how far off the person’s intent many of us are. Sometimes people are closer to pets than they are to family. On the other hand I LOVE this piece and think you should hang onto it for another opportunity.
I’m so glad you posted it as I took some time with it when Ray and I went to visit the show the other day, but wanted to look at it more.
The body poses of the figures I viewed as a surrender to the years she lived. There is much going on in this work.
When working from the heart one always succeeds.

anonymous said...

Before I processed all your text I presumed the paler girl was the Ca one 'fading away' - yes indeed we often read stuff into art that wasn't in the maker's mind. I don't think this matters at all - proves it is stimulating. cr

julia said...

John...your piece is extremely moving. I had so much emotion come up as my eyes wandered around the piece. I can see how the women could not leave it! And why the poet might have been speechless.. it’s so hard to know how our work will land with others..and your story is such a reminder that no matter how clear we think we are being, each of us is functioning in the world from our own paradigm, our own past experiences...and how we interpret it all.