December, 2023
December 2023
The artform is a unique and safe space to explore a topic as weighty as cancer. – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Sep 19, 2023, 19:00

The artform is a unique and safe space to explore a topic as weighty as cancer. – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Quoting Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on LinkedIn:

“At the virtual art event ‘Cancer – The Zine Edition,’ single sheets of paper were transformed into mini magazines – zines – in which young adults creatively documented their cancer journeys. By the end of the workshop, each zine was filled with writing and illustrations that represented the participants’ feelings and memories. Nathaly Davis, the workshop host, hoped they learned a bit about themselves, just as she had through her personal work.

Davis, 26, has been involved with the Young Adult Program (YAP) at Dana-Farber for more than four years, drawing on its vast network of resources to help navigate her cancer journey. She has been an artist her entire life, a passion that led her to study illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, an outlet that she leaned on for support during treatment.

Davis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the summer of 2019, a life event that she says changed the way she interacts with art. ‘I feel like I have become more intuitive,’ Davis explains. ‘Even if the artwork I’m creating is not about cancer, it’s still connected in that I’m more confident in who I am because of that challenge I faced.’

Now in remission after receiving treatment at the Institute, Davis teaches art to K-8 students. ‘I love sharing new ideas, exploring new mediums and materials, and hearing ideas from the class on how we can turn those ideas into something,’ she says.

Davis’ idea for a zine workshop came after she participated in a class on diamond painting, hosted by a fellow YAP member. Patient-led activities are designed to foster support among peers. Davis, hoping to give back to a community that supported her during some of her most challenging years, approached Sarah Fay, MSW, LCSW, YAP program and research coordinator, with her idea.

‘I was very impressed,’ says Fay about the pitch. ‘Nathaly is so bubbly, kind, warm, and creative. She has contributed a lot of energy to whatever young adult programming she’s been a part of.’

Zines are the product of self-publication and are often created by artists and writers from marginalized communities seeking to share their knowledge and experiences. Since taking off as a medium in the ’70s, zines have documented everything from political movements to punk rock fandoms. The artform is a unique and safe space to explore a topic as weighty as cancer.

‘I hope they can reflect – just as I have – on where their mind is now and have an artistic keepsake,’ Davis says.

In preparation for the workshop, Davis also created a zine, an experience that she says was strange, but ultimately led to a moment of healing that made it easier for her to reflect on her treatment. The pages recount her experiences with thyroid cancer and survivorship, but when unfolded, the pamphlet reveals her main message in bold lettering: ‘Cancer does not define me.'”

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Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/LinkedIn