Cancer Update #13

December 3, 2016 – Art Interview

Dear Friends and Family,

I think that many of you know that I have been making art about cancer as I travel along this double cancer road. Early last summer I was interviewed by The Muse Magazine, an online publication coming out of McMaster University’s medical humanities program. I was really impressed with the kinds of questions that Irina Sverdlichenko asked and I’m delighted with the final interview. Please have a look at both my interview and the whole issue. Feel free to pass this along. (There is a Full Screen icon if you mouse below the magazine image.) 

I started the chemo phase of my breast cancer treatment this week. So far there have been no dramatic side effects.

I’m bracing myself for the unknown as I go through the next 12 weeks. Then radiation.

Not all of you will know that I was evicted from my fabulous studio at the end of Sept. I didn’t take it personally as everyone on my floor was kicked out to make room for the ever expanding gaming company, UBISoft. There was some very quick footwork and the help of my tremendous community to find a new place, pack up and move. I’m settled into the new space and excited to be here.

Thank you, as always, for all your love and support.




Cancer Update #6

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The group show at Humber College was a great success with a buzzy opening and lots of people in attendance. For those of you who didn’t see it at the show, I have finally put the new work, Mortal Selfies, up online.I’d love for you to have a look at it:

The files are fairly large, so patience please as they load. In the analogue world, the viewer can move around the objects; here I’ve given you close-ups instead so that you can read the text.

I’ve also used this opportunity to update my website in other places. There are three more new galleries, other than Mortal Selfies. If you have time, have a look at them too:

My MFA thesis work is here:

The ink drawings which led up to Mortal Selfies are here:

And an older project about my neighbourhood which is only now getting itself online:

I’m in Week 12 of my Induction Chemo. Mostly I have no side effects from it. One of the weirdest ones I do have is that my sense of taste is altered. Some days everything tastes like cardboard; other days I can only taste strong acid, sweet and salt. I find myself wanting to add salt to everything and then remembering that it is my taste buds, not the food that is the problem. I realize, sadly, how much pleasure I normally take from good tastes. In general, though, I am in much better shape than I was prior to my diagnosis. I have more energy because I’m not so anemic; my back and legs don’t hurt all the time because of the strong steroids I’m on and I’m no longer in a state of abject terror wondering what on earth is going on with my body. Cancer is scary, but the unknown was even scarier. I am worried about my back (a herniated disc) post steroids. I’m addressing this by doing Mitzvah. It is a body alignment modality akin to Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique. I’m hoping this work will alleviate my back pain.

Meanwhile I’ve joined a cancer support group and connected with a Toronto Myeloma organization. It is great to talk with other people who have gone through cancer treatments. This coming summer I will be having the next phase of my treatment – Stem Cell Transplant. I’m not looking forward to it. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about it now to lessen the mystery. This is when the high dose chemo happens. It sounds as if there is a long recovery period required afterwards. The medical team recommends not going back to work for 3-6 months with many people needing another 6 months after that. With those time lines in mind, I have decided to permanently leave teaching at Humber College. They need to find someone to take the digital courses to the next stage. And I’ve decided it is time to give myself over to my art more fully. I’m sad to leave teaching, but also ready to move on.

I’m about to start the next cancer art series. I can’t say too much about it yet except that I’m excited about getting it going. I’ll keep you posted. Of course I’d love hear what you think of the new art; however I may not give you much of a reply as I’m in Art First mode. Also, for those of you also on Face Book with me, the silence is about to end. I’m about to announce these galleries there, so FB will know about the cancer. Lastly, if you want off this list, let me know and please feel no obligation to reply.




Cancer Update #5

March 3, 2015

Dear Friends, Family & Colleagues,

My first series of cancer art works, Mortal Selfies, are almost finished. It has been a very exciting push to get them done. The side effects from the chemo – nausea and tiredness – have been present but not overwhelming. I have felt quite energized by the task of shaping visual pieces that speak to this early experience of cancer. As I move through the treatment stages, I hope to continue finding forms that speak to my journey  I’ve written an artist statement about the work which I’ve pasted into this email. I will be getting the work up online sometime soon…

Meanwhile, I’d like to invite those of you who are nearby to come and see the new work in a faculty group show, RUBRIC,  opening next week at Humber College. I’ve attached the invitation below; however there is an additional opportunity to see the work.


Thursday March 12 – 6:30-8:30pm

Guelph Humber Art Gallery – GH 123

Exhibition Dates

Tuesday March 10 – Wednesday April 1

Monday to Friday 12-5pm

I’ll be at the reception. The gallery will also open on Saturday March 14 from 12-4pm. I will be there and would love to see some of you then.

The Guelph Humber Art Gallery is at Humber’s North campus, off Highway 27 just south of Finch. If you are driving, take Highway 27 to Humber College Blvd. It is a bit north of Rexdale Blvd. I’m attaching a map of the campus where I’ve marked the building with the gallery in red. If you are coming by public transit, go to Kipling Subway station and take the 191Highway 27 Express.



Diana Meredith: Artist’s Statement

We learned that, “The personal is political,” from the feminists of the 1970s and 1980sI count myself among them. My artwork is informed and shaped by using personal experiences, especially of the body, as sources for my artwork. Mortal Selfies is a first investigation of my recent experience of multiple myeloma, bone marrow cancer.

Each image begins with a photo I took of myself – the contemporary ‘selfie’, which is used, in turn, as the photo reference for an ink drawing. The image is then brought into the computer and visually fractured. The fractured image reflects the experience of cancer diagnosis, treatment and identity in a variety of ways. Myeloma is a disease of the blood cells. These are tiny pieces of self that have fractured from the integrated body and have turned on it. Contemporary cancer treatment involves a massive use of pharmaceuticals – those fractured pieces of biochemical science targeted at particular cells. Finally, identity as a cancer patient embraces a multiplicity of fractured identities. Donning the iconic hospital gown and moving through the rituals of medical testing and oncology clinics, as well as ingesting the futuristic drugs of chemotherapy, advance one through a series of constructed identities. At the same time, the high tech of cancer science is counterpoised against the personal sensations of the diseased body and the flood of community support. These different kinds of identities fractured together to construct new facets of identity.

Before I went to graduate school at age 57, I would not have included text in a work of art. My initial art training took place within the framework of Modernism which espoused form over content. The visuals needed to speak for themselves and language was a separate entity that had no place in visual art. The ideas behind Contemporary Art changed my thinking on the use of text.  I realized that text was both a visual element as well as a site of meaning.

The four pieces that make up Mortal Selfies explore different aspects of the personal and public text that surrounds us in contemporary European-American society. Loss looks at the diary – a site of personal reflection and private exploration. Numbers reflects the experience of the modern cancer patient in treatment. Frequently, at times daily, blood tests tell the cancer narrative far more sharply than that out-moded measure, “How do you feel?” Creatinine levels, kappa light chain proteins and hemoglobin are some of the numbers that define my treatment plan. At the same time the numbers of prognosis inevitably raise the spectre of mortality on a profound level. The third piece in the series, Chemo, investigates the pharmaceutical industry. While the miracle of chemotherapy cannot be denied, the high price of cancer drugs does beg the question, “Who is making all that money?” The series ends with Cherish, a homage to the outpouring of love, support and wisdom that has come my way since my diagnosis. I use hand written text to reflect the personal nature of these emails.  Finally, each piece is defaced with that most illicit of public texts – graffiti.

Through text in various forms, fractured ink paintings and the dance between the manipulations of digital processes and the materiality of analog, I have found a visual form to encompass the early stages of cancer diagnosis, treatment and identity in contemporary, urban Canadian society.