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Hollis Sigler's Breast Cancer Journal

Sigler, Hollis, and Love, Susan M., and Yood, James

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ISBN 10: 1555951759 / ISBN 13: 9781555951757
Published by Hudson Hills Press, New York, NY, 1999
Condition: Very good Hardcover
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About this Item

96 pages. Signed bookplate. Color illustrations. Signed by author. DJ has slight wear and soiling. Hollis Sigler, a leading feminist artist, was diagnosed in 1985 as having breast cancer. After it recurred she began a pictorial journal, now encompassing more than 100 works, which combines personal experience with family history, medical statistics and the raising of political awareness. This volume brings together 60 of her paintings, with additional essays by the artist, Dr Susan M Love and James Yood, who draw parallels between Sigler and Frida Kahlo. From Wikipedia: "Hollis Sigler (1948 2001) was a Chicago-based artist whose paintings addressed her life with breast cancer. She died of the disease in 2001, at the age of 53 ] She received degrees from both Moore College of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her mature artistic style was faux-na´ve, featuring paintings whose subjects, furniture and clothing set in doll-house type interiors and suburban landscapes, were stand-ins for the implicitly female figure. She was an openly lesbian artist and a prominent member of the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, Sigler s themes became more personal, confronting ideas about body image, heredity, illness, mortality and hope.Breast cancer ran in Sigler s family; her great-grandmother, Sarah Anna Truitt Ryan, died of the disease and Sigler s mother, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983, succumbed to it in April 1995. Sigler received a diagnosis of breast cancer in August 1985. The artist underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, but by 1993 the cancer had spread to her bones, pelvis and spine. Among the first art works dealing with her illness that Sigler produced after her cancer diagnosis was a series of five vitreograph prints. Produced in the fall of 1985 at Littleton Studios in North Carolina, the prints, titled "When Choice isn't Possible, " "Forever Unobtainable, " "Needing to Make a Change, " "She still Dreams of Flying" and "There is Healing to be Done" introduced a darker side to the artist's woman-oriented works. Almost a decade after those works where produced, Sigler noted in a 1994 interview that she thought the images in her paintings would change as she changed; instead, while the content of her work changed, her imagery remained the same. In an interview published in Chicago s New Art Examiner, Sigler said that she realized that she would eventually die of breast cancer, and this knowledge had changed the way she approached her art. In 1992 she began her series of paintings Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of My Grandmothers. Intensely personal, the vividly colored works portray unpeopled scenes where women s clothing (dresses, aprons, corsets, gloves and stockings), furniture (including chairs, beds and vanities) and antique sculptures (including the Nike of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo) are surrogates for the artist. Embued with a life of their own, they enact the emotional responses of the artist to her illness. These paintings could be shockingly forthright. In a review of the 1993 exhibition "The Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of my Grandmothers" at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, journalist Lee Fleming wrote of the content of one painting in particular: "The glorious Nike of Samothrace, "Winged Victory, " stands in armless profile atop a shallow fiery-hued tumulus not unlike a breast. Red rain falls; a bloodied, paving-stone path encirles the mound like a scar. The ground inside and outside this red-gray line is littered with discarded contemporary and antique clothes, all of which share a bleeding cutout where one breast would be." The paintings could also embody the artist's vision of the spiritual human being triumphing over the ordeal of breast cancer. Fleming cites "To Kiss the Spirits: Now this is What it is Really Like, " as an example of a painting that "sums up Sigler's struggle in a glorio. Bookseller Inventory # 66959

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hollis Sigler's Breast Cancer Journal

Publisher: Hudson Hills Press, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Sigler, Hollis

Book Condition: Very good

Dust Jacket Condition: very good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: Presumed first edition/first printing.

About this title


The artist's pictorial journal explores her experience with breast cancer, creating paintings and works on paper. With essays by leading breast cancer authority Susan Love, art critic James Yood, and Sigler herself.

From the Publisher:

A Chicago-based artist, Sigler learned in 1986 that she, like her mother and grandmother, had breast cancer. Five years later, the cancer had spread to Sigler's bones, inspiring the captivating small-scale paintings featured in this powerful book, in which she unflinchingly traces the perilous psychic journey a woman makes as she combats the disease. The pieces have an introspective yet schematic feel similar to the work of Chicago Imagist Jim Nutt. Because Sigler constructs her symmetrical paintings in bright, jewel-tone colors, they also recall the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. (An essay by James Yood traces Sigler's career as an artist, and a brief text by Sigler describes the history of her work.) Occasionally, Sigler uses cut paper to create her domestic scenes of beds, dresses and vanities in which no one seems to be at home. In some works, the right breast has been slashed from the dresses and blood rains from the sky. Because the reproductions are relatively small, the statistics on cancer and the private thoughts the artist has inscribed on the frames of her paintings are reprinted at the bottom of each page. Readers don't have to have cancer to relate to the sentiments expressed in works like "Having to Beat the Odds"--although as breast cancer specialist Dr. Susan M. Love notes in her foreword, the disease still kills 30% of its victims.

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