Arizona Cancer Center patient's art work wins national award

Wild Water by Annette Zalewski
Wild Water by Annette Zalewski

Arizona Cancer Center patient Annette Zalewski's mixed media "Wild Water" was named the winner of the Lilly Oncology on CanvasSM 2010 national competition. Her work and 24 other pieces will be on display at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at UMC-North, 3838 N. Campbell Ave., July 11 to 29.

Zalewski will be honored at a reception at the clinic July 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Here's how Zalewski, of Peoria, describes her life as represented by her art:

"My life after a diagnosis of lung cancer feels like it has been cut up, rearranged and become a different picture. The treatments and side effects, like the rocks in the turbulent water, can make me feel bruised, battered and worn out. When scan results show improvement or stability, I can coast smoothoy for a while, but any negative change leads to another bumpy ride down the falls. Yet as the rushing water continues on its path, I plan to continue surviving and weaving a beautiful life."

In an interview with Coping with Cancer about the award, Zalewski said when deciding to enter Lilly Oncology On Canvas, she chose to create an artwork using a cut-up technique – which begins with painting the image once, then painting it a second time in a slightly altered shape. Both paintings are then cut up, and the two images are woven together.

"My artwork represents my two lives – before and after my lung cancer diagnosis," said Zalewski. "My cancer journey has been like a sail down a river – at times, peaceful and tranquil, at other times, bumpy and turbulent. Yet, just like the river, I plan to continue moving along my path while weaving a beautiful life."

The biennial competition, launched in 2004, invites people from the United States and Puerto Rico diagnosed with any type of cancer, as well as their families, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers, to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give their cancer journeys meaning.

The themes explored in the more than 600 entries submitted to the 2010 competition ranged from hope, to fear, to the loss of individualism, to the support of family and friends, to the memory of those lost, to the perseverance of those who survive.

Oncology On Canvas is presented by Lilly Oncology, in partnership with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS).