After death, the mementos left behind are never enough. And yet they are everything.
The precious possessions of loved ones lost often serve as a final, tangible connection, forever binding the grieving to the departed. They become fiercely guarded keepsakes. Or sacred artifacts placed on display. Or both.
For Libby Kranz, mother of Jennifer, the connection to her daughter is a sparkly piece of costume jewelry. For Nikki Austin, mother of Matthew, it’s a stuffed horse. For Cammy Singh, mother of Rohan, it’s a Lego flying machine. And all three items – Jennifer’s ring, Matthew’s horse and Rohan’s spaceship – now will inspire fresh hope via art.
On Saturday, blown-glass replicas of these “healing objects” will be unveiled at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center during the annual “Light Up the Night” fundraiser. The event supports Project Violet, which discovers effective, new drugs for cancers and rare diseases.
All three of those children died from brain tumors. Two of the kids – Matthew, 11, and Rohan, 7 – were treated by Dr. Jim Olson’s team. Jennifer, 6, was treated near her home in California.
"The words, ‘pediatric cancer’ make most people raise an emotional wall. So how do we engage the public in this very important problem? Through art,” Olson said. “These gorgeous pieces of Shirley Klinghoffer’s create an opportunity for people to get close to our community in a safe and beautiful way."
Klinghoffer, a contemporary artist whose work often deals with themes of vulnerability and strength, added: “It represents a way to show how something that may start out with an unwanted reality can then bring solace. And [how it can] can bring some kind of a relief to the families to let them know that their children’s stories live on.”