Living Proof Exhibit grew out of a friendship between two women who used art as therapy in coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer. The two women curated their first exhibit at Bucktown Center for the Arts in Davenport in 2010. Since that time, Living Proof Exhibit has partnered with the Figge Art Museum, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, UnityPoint Health-Trinity Cancer Center, and the Peoria Public Library to display works of art by cancer patients and survivors. Now, Living Proof Exhibit is coming to the Muscatine Art Center.

A juried exhibition will be on view in Musser Galleries from September 28th through November 12th. The public is invited to attend a reception on Sunday, October 1st from 1 to 4 p.m. Also on October 1st, anyone touched by cancer can participate in a free “faux stained glass” studio project from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Advance registration is required and can be made by calling the Muscatine Art Center at 563-263-8282.

The exhibition features works of eleven artists, as well as group projects. Alongside each work is a statement describing the artist’s experience of using art to express complicated emotions and/or the struggles of coping with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment. Visitors to the exhibition will find hope, determination, faith, and creativity.

“Telling the stories and exhibiting the art of cancer survivors is one way to encourage and inspire those who have been recently diagnosed,” explains Pamela Crouch, Executive Director of Living Proof Exhibit. Nearly 100 Muscatine residents receive a cancer diagnosis each year. Add the family and friends who are directly or indirectly impacted by the diagnosis and more than 1,000 people in Muscatine are newly impacted by cancer each year. Whether fighting cancer yourself or watching a family member or loved one face the disease, the experience is stressful and emotional for everyone involved.

The exhibition includes a range of art media from photography and fiber arts to watercolors and jigsaw puzzles. LaNae Ramos, one of the artists selected for the juried exhibition, writes, “Art is a way of expressing joy or sadness. In the end, there is a beautiful product. Something that not only I can enjoy, but others can too. Even though I can't do the things I used to be able to do, my passion for life has only gotten stronger. Even the smallest of things can have a larger meaning behind them.”

Both Living Proof Exhibit and the Muscatine Art Center want to send the message that art can be part of the healing process. Patients coping with cancer can experience a wide range of emotions that can be difficult to communicate. Creating art is a way of expressing those feelings while reducing stress, anxiety and depression. By offering free art sessions, the two organizations hope to provide a safe place where patients and caregivers can connect with others in similar situations.

In addition to the exhibition, reception, and free studio project on Sunday, October 1st, anyone touched by cancer can also participate in a second Creative Session to be held on Thursday, October 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. During this session, participants will decorate porcelain “sugar” skulls in celebration of “El Dia de Los Muertos” (Day of the Dead).  All supplies will be provided. A bilingual assistant will be on hand to translate art instruction into Spanish at both sessions which are sponsored by Susan G. Komen Greater Iowa.

“The exhibition and sessions offered this October are just the beginning,” explained Muscatine Art Center Director, Melanie Alexander. “More Creative Sessions will be held in 2018 and 2019 and a larger juried exhibition is planned for 2019.” The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has awarded Living Proof Exhibit a grant to fund a portion of the 2018 – 2019 partnership with the Muscatine Art Center. The two organizations continue to seek grant funding.

For information about art therapy classes or programming opportunities, please visit or email To register for the Creative Session on October 1st and/or October 19th, call the Muscatine Art Center at 563-263-8282.

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. For more information about programs and events, visit and download a class brochure.

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