Artist makes quilt of labels while undergoing bone cancer treatment; ‘Gratitude in Art’ show

Zabriskie displaying the quilt he made while battling cancer, St. George, Utah, November 2014 | Photo courtesy of Michael Zabriskie, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – St. George artist Michael Zabriskie has a quilt on display at the Southern Utah Art Guild that he pieced together while receiving treatments for a rare form of bone cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS. It is featured, fittingly, as part of Southern Utah Art Guild’s “Gratitude in Art” now on display at the Red Cliff Gallery, 220 N. 200 E., in St. George. The show runs until Nov. 21.

Detail of labels featured on the quilt, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Michael Zabriskie
Detail of labels featured on the quilt, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Michael Zabriskie

“During my six-month hospital stay in 2008, I was bored; my parents knew I needed a project,” Zabriskie said. “They brought me literally thousands of labels for this project. Friends, family and others sent labels from all over the world.  I sorted, placed, moved, pinned, then moved again and again.  As I finished one section, my mom stitched them in place, leading to this collaboration.”

Zabriskie got started with the Southern Utah Art Guild thanks to some neighbors who have been in the guild for some time. He has worked with oil paints, and took some of his paintings to the hospital to keep him company.

“I’ve always been into art, “Zabriskie said. “When I got to the hospital, I was looking at my room and I was thinking that if I was going to be here for a month – and possibly checking out – I’m not going to look at that ugly poster on the wall for that long. I had original art brought in and hung in my room.”

The Red Cliff Gallery displays several types of art, including photography, pottery, sculptures and paintings.

“So far this year we’ve had four shows, and we’re trying to have six shows next year,” John Mangels, a member of the guild’s board of directors, said. “It’s amazing to me the art talent that we have here in St. George. The guild started about 20 years ago and it struggled. Within the last six months or so, it’s grown to be about 120 members right now. Our members use all kinds of artistic mediums, we have a couple of really good oil painters, potters, sculptors, the whole gamut of art types,” Mangels said.

About MDS

According to, myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, are a group of diverse bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. MDS is often referred to as a “bone marrow failure disorder.” MDS is primarily a disease of the elderly (most patients are older than age 65), but MDS can affect younger patients as well.

Last year more than 260 Utahns, and more than 28,000 people nationally, gave thanks for the goodness of others after receiving life-saving stem cell and marrow transplants. Unfortunately, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. await transplants, Zabriskie said.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 


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