~Meniscus Archives~
Summer/Fall 2005
Issue #8

Issue #8 Home


Hijacking the Big Bang Theory
Derek Meier
Today, religion is being replaced by luxury worship, where to have is to be fulfilled. Buying is the new praying. American Express the new holy bread and Master Card the holy blood of Christ that we must consume for eternal life and understanding...

Surviving and Flourishing Through Cancer
Rachael Wilcox & Jon Heinrich
This November 5th The Wellness Community of Greater Boston will host an art exhibit and fundraiser to commemorate the stories of lives touched by cancer. The afternoon event will feature work by artists Stephanie Angelo, Lorna Ritz and Rachael Wilcox. Through the use of different mediums from painting to sculpture, the reception will display the triumphs and legacies of cancer patients, their stories told visually. Meniscus Magazine had the chance to catch up with ceramicist Rachael Wilcox to learn about her wholehearted contribution to the cause.

Introduction to the Quantum Octave Theory
Jon Heinrich
It is through physically evasive mediums that music lives. Both music and physics exist through the same cosmic rule of Eight. When notes flowed through Jerry’s guitar, where did they come from? The notes come not only from just within him, but within us all; alive or dead, organic or inanimate, here or there. He is cutting past manifest reality. Something is happening on a metaphysical level, here's my theory.


by Jon Heinrich
Published 9/18/05

Surviving and Flourishing Through Cancer
This November 5th The Wellness Community of Greater Boston will host an art exhibit and fundraiser to commemorate the many lives touched by cancer. The afternoon event will feature work by artists Stephanie Angelo, Lorna Ritz and Rachael Wilcox. Through the use of different mediums from painting to sculpture, the reception will display the triumphs and legacies of cancer patients, their stories told visually. Meniscus Magazine had the chance to catch up with ceramicist Rachael Wilcox to learn about her wholehearted contribution to the cause.

The patient’s ceramically petrified faces are adorned in different colors to represent different aspects of each persona. Blue represents the spiritual aspects of that person and red illustrates the earthly plane of existence. Like a knife, black slices between the blue and the red conveying the frailty and hardships of life.
Accompanying the ceramic portraits, each piece of work features an incognito set of speakers expressing words from the patient’s mouth about their life-threatening experience. Listening to the deep dark feelings of these people’s lives leaves me with chills as I stare at the revealing clay.

Many people shy away from an experience that might be uncomfortable, Rachael Wilcox will be the first to point out that all the stories are tales of strength and positivity. Even though these people had dealt with scary intrusive treatments, there was one common statement among them all: Life is a special thing, don’t forget to smell the roses.

One gentleman, Scott, who was diagnosed with pancreatitis explained the experience in a way we can all relate to: “Cancer is like 9/11, you think you’re safe, then you realize how vulnerable you are; and that you need to take the time to enjoy life.”

The most motivating factor driving Wilcox’s artistic focus was her own mother’s battle with cancer. In an untoward act of God, Rachael’s mom, Shirley Wilcox, was struck by lightning in the shower when a raging thunderstorm passed by their home. From that lightening strike Shirley developed a spine tumor. During Shirley’s interview with her daughter she revealed aspects of her experience that Rachael hadn’t known before; and at one point the independent, navy trained, tough-as-nails woman that Rachael knew started to cry. The most important thing Shirley taught her daughter was that life is hard, so it’s important to remember to enjoy every day.

The cancer left Shirley partially paralyzed and in constant pain; and the long-term side effects from her intense radiation therapy is taking its toll on her body and organs. Despite being partially paralyzed she is determined to remain positive and to help others.

One woman, Heidi, after being diagnosed, found that she carried the breast cancer gene, which gave her an 80% chance of also contracting ovarian cancer. After having a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery she had to deal with the reality that her biology was a ticking clock. Heidi and her husband chose to have children right away in case her ovaries became cancerous and she needed to have another surgery. When Rachael asked how this affected her identity as a woman she replied, “I had to do a lot of soul searching and realized that what makes you a woman comes from someplace much deeper.”

Joanne, diagnosed with breast cancer, had different experiences. Being a woman with grown children, Joanne explained the fear of not knowing what was going to happen. But when she first went into her chemotherapy treatment she met a woman who told her not to look at the experience as something to be frightened of, but as something that was going to heal her. Now she practices yoga and acupuncture along with traditional western approaches to keep her spirit and energy healthy as well as her body.

“My art is my soul mate.”

From the beginning of her art career, Rachael felt that the medium of clay was calling. When I asked her why, she leaned back as if to get very serious, but then smiled playfully and looked off in the distance as if she were explaining a fond childhood memory. “Clay is like a best friend,” she explains. “You have to work with clay. It has its own ideas and you need to ask its permission to impress your vision upon it and it still won’t necessarily act the way you want it to. It’s communication on a textural level.”

Rachael is not the first person to feel such a communion with clay. In fact, every culture since societies formed has used clay as a mixture of art and utility. The techniques are as old as people. The relationship between humans and clay resonates deeply, which is apparent when looking at the portraits. The emotion comes through.

“This is a little embarrassing but I will admit it—sometimes I started crying when I was sculpting these portraits,” Wilcox explains. “Sometimes I cry when I work depending on whether I am extremely happy or sad. I can get very wrapped up in what I am doing. I cried a lot making Dena's.”

Dena, was 28 when she was first diagnosed with melanoma, and was happy to find how much support and love she really had in life—especially when her boyfriend proposed after the diagnosis. The event also brought out the strength and closeness between her and her close friend Karen. What Dena and her loved ones understood was that connecting with, and enjoying other people is the best part of being human. Getting to know people allows you to know yourself.

When Rachael began the project, she had no idea what level she’d be connecting on. But now she’s grateful to have shared these people’s lives and learned from their experiences.

Now that all the portraits are complete and ready to go on display, everyone has been very appreciative of Rachael’s work—and Rachael was very thankful to have the opportunity to get so intimately connected with these people’s lives. While most of the stories still do not have endings, one does. Dena’s cancer had returned and metastasized to several different areas of her body, including her brain. She passed away at the age of 30. Wanting to do whatever she could, Rachael shared the entire 30-minute interview with Dana’s parents, a gesture they were very thankful for despite the pain. Dana’s portrait and monologue provided a tangible snapshot of her life and her struggles. It was through Dena’s experience with melanoma, and because of her death that her parents and friends are now determined to help others avoid the same unfortunate fate by spreading information—and sunscreen—to everyone they know.

“I was lucky to meet the people who participated in the project,” explains Wilcox. “But it was especially hard with Dena. After she died, I promised her parents that I would make them two portraits of her. As you can imagine, that was draining, creating her portrait and staring at her picture for hours knowing she was no longer around. But I was looking at a picture of her before she'd gotten sick, and she was full of life in that picture—so it was also positive. I was able to capture the best part of her.

”Positivity through a voice – Living life now!
What Rachael discovered is that giving people a voice is very healing in itself. People need to express emotions in order to recover and Rachael’s project gave them a venue of expression. When her work goes on display at the Wellness Center, everyone will walk away with something and at the very least they will have faces and names to remember.

The overwhelming theme of the project however is Carpe Diem: Seize the day and always remain positive. The patients discovered something very important: Positivity doesn’t necessarily affect your chances of survival, but it does allow you to enjoy what life you have. Even if science never finds a cure for cancer, patients can focus on quality of life—which is all you can ask for. You may not be able to control how long you live, but you can control how you live. Even if you live to be 100 years old, every moment that passes is gone forever, so you better enjoy each one! And when you’re on your deathbed looking back on your life, you’re going to care if you reached out to people and did your best to make them happy. It’s all about looking back on life with this third person view. Now, with your life still in front of you, you have a few very important decisions: 1) Are you going to freely express your emotions? 2) Are you going to allow yourself to truly know who you are? 3) Are you going to do the right thing? and 4) Are you going to leave a door open to others?

As Wilcox discovered, life isn’t always easy and doesn’t necessarily leave you with a good feeling. But feeling anything is important. “We get numbed with the daily routines of life and get to a point where we feel nothing at all—good or bad,” says Wilcox. “Then something comes along like a slap on the face to wake us up.” You start fighting against that numbing feeling and stay aware of the things that are going on around you, especially the little things. “For example,” she says, “make a commitment to watch the sun set ever night even for just a little bit. Realize you are lucky to experience that. I mean when was the last time you felt a sense of wonder and enjoyment at the sunset or watching kids play in the park?”
While life may not always be comfortable, realize there is good in every person. If you do, you really appreciate people more because of it.

On November 5th from 2-8 PM, this exhibit, along with the work of two other artists, will be display at the Wellness Community, a center that supports cancer victims and families.

Echo Bridge Office Park
1039 Chestnut St.
Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464

November 5, 2005
Art Workshops from 2-5 PM
Opening Reception from 5-8 PM

Jon Heinrich


Meniscus Magazine © 2005. All material is property of respective artists.