Sears Art Museum Gallery opens exhibit of cancer survivor’s ceramic art

Foreground photo shows cancer survivor Victoria Willard, location and date not specified | Photo of Willard courtesy of Dixie State University; composite image St. George News

ST. GEORGE – In conjunction with the annual Robert N. and Peggy Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show and Sale, the Dixie State University Sears Art Museum Gallery will open its exhibit Saturday presenting the ceramic art of cancer survivor Victoria Willard in the Dolores Dorè Eccles Fine Arts Center Grand Foyer. The exhibit runs through March 27.

Willard, who is studying art education at DSU, draws from her life experiences when creating her ceramic pieces – each one expresses the traumatic process of battling and recovering from cancer.

Just like her pots that are thrown, pinched, fired and re-fired, Willard survived a little damage, but is still beautiful,” DSU Art Curator Kathy Cieslewicz said.

A 2000 graduate of Snow Canyon High School and a Sterling Scholar Visual Arts runner-up, Willard studied art at Southern Utah University on a full scholarship for two years. After taking a break from school, Willard started studying dental hygiene at Dixie State University.

In 2012, shortly after returning to school, Willard was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma, which led to her undergoing radiation treatment.

She went into full remission, but the chemotherapy caused nerve damage in her hands. While her hands were not severely damaged, it was enough for her to decide to end her training as a dental hygienist, as the job would require her hands to perform fine detail work.

Just six months after ending chemotherapy, Willard switched her focus to art education with an emphasis in ceramics.

As time went on, she realized that working with clay again provided much needed therapy after surviving cancer, which is reflected in the work on display,” Cieslewicz said.

Exhibit times are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, visit Dixie State University’s Sears Art Museum Gallery website.

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