Multiple Meanings of Cancer Through Paintings from Hollis Sigler’s Breast Cancer Journal

Tony L. Kroll
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Various studies have considered the healing qualities of art in the process of healthcare. Findings suggest art can have effects on psychological wellbeing and can be associated with physiological changes within the body that are believed to influence the healing process. Hollis Sigler’s Breast Cancer Journal provides a collection of sixty brightly colored, provocative images created in response to her own breast cancer. Sigler integrates written commentaries into her painted images, creating very direct statements about the day-to-day experience of living with breast cancer and the lack of public and political awareness to find a cure for breast cancer.

Sigler's paintings are used as a case study to consider viewer responses to patient-produced visual images. Three sets of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and three sets of people from the general public engaged in open-ended, in-depth discussion in focus group settings centered around ten of the Sigler images. A grounded theory approach is used to identify themes from participant responses. Three broad categories will be described: engagement with complex emotions and experiences; contradictory comparisons; and, meanings ascribed to breast cancer. Findings are discussed in relation to theoretical development of the function of visual images in the healthcare process, and components in the relationship between art and healing.

Keywords: Art and Healing, Hollis Sigler, Art and Breast Cancer, Functions of Art in Healthcare
Stream: Art in Communities, Meaning and Representation, Art and Human Rights
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Tony L. Kroll

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Communication, Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas, USA

Tony L. Kroll is a doctoral candidate in Health and Communication at Texas A&M University. Tony recently completed an appointment as a qualitative research specialist on a federally-funded grant with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His work focuses on patient descriptions of illness and on interventions designed to enhance communication between patients and healthcare providers. Tony publishes in the area of physician-patient communication and is currently conducting a series of studies on visual health communication and breast cancer. During the 1990s Tony worked in the healthcare industry as a hospital administrator in acute-care teaching hospitals and later in healthcare marketing and public relations. When not thinking about issues related to health and communication, Tony's favorite activity is spending time with his two daughters, Katie and Mary Beth.

Ref: A06P0394