The Long Ease: Post-Cancer Work – Phoebe Marie Nelson


During the year of illness and literal bloodshed that led up to my diagnosis with inoperable Stage 2B Cervical Cancer on November 2, 2011, something was happening that I did not even realize. Or NOT happening, as it were. I stopped making art. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. I felt terrible and uninspired, stressed and filled with anxiety and panic. The artwork just ended. Shortly after the diagnosis and subsequent months of chemotherapy, radiation and brachytherapy, something else happened that I didn’t realize either. I started making art again. Quietly at first. Just a few pieces. And then a few more. And very slowly, over the past two years, I began to “ease” back into the life of a so-called artist again. It was a big deal for me.

Cancer not only changed me physically – I was left infertile and menopausal at 36, not to mention a host of other late side effects and a permanent fear of recurrence – but it changed my artwork as well. I’ve done collage for over 20 years, and everyone who is familiar with my work has noticed the change. I don’t think this new series of work is “better” than what I used to do, but it is different. Lighter, yet more meaningful. More mature maybe? More hopeful? Maybe it’s just what happens to the things you make when you’ve been through something as life-altering as cancer in your 30s.




The Long Ease: Post-Cancer Works

Phoebe Marie Nelson 

April 11 – May 3, 2014