The story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel is my favorite about art collecting. Blessed with eyes that see, the couple amassed a celebrated collection of works created by the most distinguished artists in contemporary art. Not independently wealthy, they accomplished this feat by living on Dorothy’s research librarian earnings, reserving Herb's postal worker income to buy art.
Because I lack their passion and discipline, I doubt I'll achieve a collection the caliber of the Vogel's. However, I have promised myself to only buy original art for my home. The result is a small, but growing collection of mostly local artists, and a couple large areas of blank wall space, because building a collection occurs over years.
There are pieces I've bought from galleries. Some were bought directly from the artists. One piece, a photograph, was acquired from an art school instructor in a trade for one of my exhibited paintings she admired. This photograph holds special meaning in what it represents, as much as its beauty.
Within my art collection, there are pieces holding a very special place in my heart: These are artworks created and given to me by patients throughout my nursing career. They include photographs, watercolor paintings, and beaded bracelets. There are knitted washcloths, crocheted potholders, and hand-drawn thank-you cards, along with portraits worked in crayon, scrawled with the words, "Nurse Juli." I am unaware of any nurse without such a collection.
These artworks, created by cancer patients, astound me. When patients keep their eyes to see despite chemo induced fatigue, lengthy appointments, and uncertain futures, creating something beautiful as an expression of gratitude, it is truly a work of the human spirit. I save every piece. They are the most meaningful art in my collection.
What are your favorite gifts from oncology patients? Does your institution incorporate art made by patients or staff in some manner? Do you collect anything of special meaning?