Telly’s Piece in the Banner today

Life is Short, Art is Long

Saturday, January 31

Special to the Banner

BENNINGTON — Dozens of creative works can represent an artist’s lifetime opus. But when that vantage point suddenly comes into a different, more threatening context, there is no way to predict, or even expect, inspired outcome.

Nearly two years removed from that predicament following a breast cancer diagnosis, local artist Viola Moriarty recently opened an ongoing show, “Ex Voto Suspecto,” at the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center.

“We’d like to take the show on the road,” Moriarty said on the exhibit’s opening night. “My wish is for these works to eventually go to other cancer centers and deliver hope and comfort, much like I found here.” The exhibition’s name comes from the Latin meaning “from the vow made.” An “ex voto” is a votive offering in gratitude, or for a promise kept. Typically, they are located in places of worship and can take many forms. They are not just offerings, but also destinations for later visitors who might have experienced healing.

The exhibit is a multimedia splash from an artist who has worked in many forms yet remains primarily a painter. The show is dedicated to Moriarty’s mother Ruby Colleen Lubischer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994, and survived. It consists of 14 stations that include poetry, print, mixed media, oil painting, watercolor, toys, collage, and photography.

Diagnosed in early 2007, Moriarty admitted to being scared when going for her first medical appointments to prepare for surgery and treatment, but that her camera reminded her that she was an artist.

“At the pre-ops a woman took my blood and I had my camera in my bag and the blood looked so interesting so I asked if I could take a picture of it and she said yes, looking at me a bit askance,” Moriarty said. “Then I asked if I could take her picture and she gave the most beautiful huge smile, and then she took my picture. I felt like an artist aga in, not just a patient; like I had something to do with my hands and my mind.”

Hailing from Colorado, and having lived in Mexico, Moriarty moved to Bennington over a decade ago. She began painting in 2002 with the support of two friends.

“I painted my first painting with Stella Ehrich and Sophia Warsh behind Powers’ Market in North Bennington,” Moriarty said. “They painted the waterfall and I painted the dumpster. I knew from the feeling of brush on canvas that first day that everything, everything had changed. And so I changed my whole life to accommodate this new information.”

Moriarty claimed to have learned something from every artist with whom she has worked. She insisted, though, that the experience of many diverse jobs and raising a family gave her “the confidence in my ready-fire-aim style and understanding that progress is only made through the willingness to make mistakes, to get things wrong, to play, and to experiment.”

While Ex Voto Suspecto seeks to reach out to all people touched by cancer, it also serves as a way to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and education. As such, the show features the 54 original multimedia collages that have become Moriarty’s recently released Breast Cancer Playing Cards. The cards are available exclusively from the non-profit cancer education organization To Life! at $10 per deck.

Through it all, Moriarty emerged with a new perspective, as well as a resurgence of meaning for her creativity.

“Cancer ultimately was a really good thing that happened to me; even though yes, cancer is awful, so many good things are coming from it,” Moriarty said. “I’m a more compassionate person, I’m in deeper relationship with the people in my life, with my community, and I have a new avenue for service, a way to contribute something while doing the work I love.”

For more on Ex Voto Suspecto, e-mail vimorpainter@hotmail.com, or visit vimorpainter.wordpress.com. Info on Breast Cancer Playing Cards, call To Life! executive director Laurie Abbott at 518-439-5972

Telly Halkias is a freelance writer and editor. E-mail: tchalkias@aol.com

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viola moriarty

(American, b. 1958)
Modern Expressionist Painter
2012-13 Recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

Upcoming Exhibitions

Current and ongoing: New Works, Allegro Ristorante in Bennington on Main Street.

Elm Street Market, Bennington

Spiral Press Cafe, Manchester, Vermont (2013) details TBA

Please click this link to see review of this blog: http://citiesofthemind.org/blogr-violamoriart/

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