Sentara art display showcases local women's work

The project began about a year ago. Nine local female artists came together to each paint a square on nine 24-by-36-inch canvases. Each canvas dealt with a different theme having to do with womanhood. The project, called Nine Women, Nine Months, is on display at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center through the end of April.

Ginny Fisher, one of the artists, originally saw the idea done in clay in Atlanta and brought it back to Williamsburg. She shared the idea with other area female artists.

"Joanne (Limric) knew more artists and she asked the others if they wanted to take part," Fisher said.

Each of the nine artists took a theme such as perseverance, healing, and sustainment. The artist journaled about the theme and painted their adaptation on one of the nine sections of the canvas.

"The idea was to meet once a month for nine months and swap canvases," Fisher said. The artists placed the canvases, with the journal, into a black plastic bag so no one would see the work.

At the end of nine months, the artists revealed the canvases.

"It was a very spiritual experience," Fisher said.

Fisher, who calls herself a relative newcomer to Williamsburg after living here for six years, said the project gave her an opportunity to connect with other women artists in the area on "a more personal and spiritual level."

The project was underway when Bob Leek, coordinator of arts at Sentara entered the picture.

"The women didn't know where they were going to showcase the canvasses," Leek said.

At the same time, he was looking for an exhibit for the visiting art gallery in the lobby of the hospital. Fisher said one of the artists, Apryl Fisher, knew Leek and they came together to put the display together.

The hospital's art program began in 1994 before the hospital moved to its current location in 2006. But Leek said the hospital planned the design with openness, light and colors to contribute to a more comfortable setting.

"Art is a big part of that," he said.

The Visiting Art Gallery showcases different local artists for three months at a time. If a work of art sells, the artist agrees to give 30 percent of the earnings to the Women's Auxiliary for the free mammogram program. The nine women are more generous. They agreed that if a work sells, 100 percent of the earnings will go to the mammogram program.

Two of the Nine Women, Nine Months pieces already sold for $250. Fisher said four of the artists also sell notecards of their canvas in the gift shop.

"It is a privilege to be part of the art project and it was a wonderful experience," Fisher said.

Besides Fisher, Limric and Altman, the other artists are Caroline G. Hardy, Sue Danehy, Laurie Rokatani, Sharon Parker, Lori Jakubow and Jenny Loveland.

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