Cancer Art Janine Wong
CR Magazine: Collaberation – Results

By Janine Wong


By Janine Wong

Atrophy, an artist book in silkscreen, is a meditation on my father’s two and a half years with lung cancer. This visual journey explores the nature of change through the imagery of imagined cancer cells.

Atrophy book

I created the images through a process called deconstructed silkscreen. In this technique, I pull a squeegee multiple times across an image of cells painted on a framed polyester screen onto which I have poured dye. With each pull of the squeegee across the taut screen, ink is pushed onto paper underneath, creating a print. On each new page of paper, some of the image from the screen is deposited, leaving a trace of the previous page while also changing the image itself.

The change from print to print can be a metaphor for cancer: Change for good, change for bad; the transformation is as ambiguous as the prognosis of the disease. Hope or despair—the images become both.

This small book was a way for me to grapple with and attempt to make sense of my father’s illness, from which he died in 2004. It was a way to make visible what was invisible—to make cancer visually tangible to myself—and a way to give form to complex patterns of emotion.   

Janine Wong is a book artist in Milton, Mass., and a professor of design at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections across the country.


(photo credit: Janine Wong)