Healing power of art featured in BAM exhibit

'Saying Good Bye Is a Serious Matter' painting by artist Lynne Saad. Acrylic, gesso and thread on cardstock.
— image credit: Linda Young Hutchinson

When Mercer Island artist Lynne Saad was diagnosed with breast cancer, you could see it in her paintings.

"All the color left her work and everything was just black-and-white," said Catherine Person, a friend and owner of the Seattle gallery where, in 2009, Saad held her last show called "Unexpected Opportunity."

It was the artist's fourth year living with stage-four breast cancer.

With acrylic paint, Saad made portraits of imaginary women in gray, dark shades with titles such as "Letting Go" and "Saying Goodbye is a Serious Matter." Each image is surrounded with a white, textured material, "beautiful, like icing on a birthday cake," Person said.

But, while Saad may have been grieving, at the opening of her show in 2009, she was cheerful, smiling, and grateful to be alive.

The day after, when all but two of her paintings had been sold (the remaining two were sold the next day) Saad entered hospice, and died shortly after.

"Having that show extended her life," Person said.

A couple of Saad's pieces from "Unexpected Opportunity" are now on view as part of the "Making Mends" exhibition at Bellevue Arts Museum.

While the therapeutic benefit of art has long been accepted, only a few exhibitions have focused on the work of artists seeking healing through their art, said BAM spokesperson Tanja Baumann.

Featuring national and international talent, this exhibit focuses on the artists' perseverance, as they come to terms with traumatic experiences through creating art.

The BAM exhibit will resonate with people who have dealt with the loss of a loved one, Person said. And surprisingly, it's not only sad, but uplifting to see.

"It's not just about death. Lynne's spirit was so strong, her sense of humor was so intact, right to the very end."

Gabrielle Nomura can be reached at 425-453-4270.

If you go:

"Making Mends" runs now until May 27 at Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue.


Art dealer Catherine Person (left) and her friend, the late artist Lynne Saad, in party hats at the opening of Saad's show "Unexpected Oppurtunity" in 2009. Saad passed away shortly after from breast cancer. Her work is featured in BAM's current exhibit, "Making Mends," which runs now through May. Ti Locke, photo




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