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Artist Hopes to Raise Support for Breast Cancer Patients

By Jessica Nicosia, originally published in the Amsterdam Recorder

Amsterdam's own fabric artist Carol Hesselink will have two quilted pieces on display at the grand opening of the Art de Cure gallery at The Plastic Surgery Group in Albany tonight.

Pieces from more than a dozen local artists will be for sale during the opening from 5 to 7 p.m., with a portion of the proceeds going to Circle of Hope, a group that supports women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Art de Cure is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 that helps to organize galleries in medical practices with the work of local artists. The host practice chooses a charity to support and Art de Cure curates the show. The artwork rotates throughout the year, with different charities supported each time.

"It's actually an honor to be part of this, the entire process," said Dr. Steven Lynch of The Plastic Surgery Group. "The Art de Cure is a collaboration of art and medicine and ... it allows for the promotion of local artists and their artworks, but it also allows them to bring their artwork into our offices, at which time our patients can view them and enjoy them.

Hesselink's work is on display alongside the work of artists from Albany, East Greenbush, Clifton Park, Niskayuna, Slingerlands and Troy.

"I have two of my wall quilts hanging there. One is 'I Hope You Dance.' It is a pink and purple piece, it's got ballet slippers in the middle that are paper pieced," said Hesselink. "And then the other piece is called 'Summer Fun at the Lake,' and it's a center nautical design that's also paper piecing."

Paper piecing is a technique of quilting where small, accurate pieces of fabric that represent a picture are sewn onto a paper pattern and then sewn together, with the paper removed.

"I started sewing when I was in my teens and then I started quilting when my granddaughter was born 25 years ago," said Hesselink. "And then once I got into the quilting I really enjoyed the patchwork piecing. I do a lot of custom work. It's fabric art."

When Hesselink is creating more complicated custom pieces, she builds them on a computer program, hand picks dozens of fabrics for the intricate piecing, and then creates a "test" version, making sure the final product will come together perfectly. Her test versions are virtually indistinguishable from the final product.

"She pays a lot of attention to detail and she has a great sense of color," said her husband Chuck Hesselink.

Hesselink works on quilts in most of her free time. Each of the pieces in the Art de Cure show took her between 15 and 17 hours to complete, but some larger pieces take her significantly more time.

"It means exposure for my art," said Hesselink of participating in Art de Cure. "I can maybe expand an area where people will know what I can do ... to show that we have artistic people in the area. And hopefully to make a sale, and to make that sale to support a cause. You have fun doing something, then hopefully you can [have] somebody buy it as a gift which will then give back ... for me and also make a contribution to a cause."

That cause is Circle of Hope, a non-profit founded in 2004 that helps women who have had or are currently fighting breast cancer.

"It's basically for the support of patients with breast cancer," said Lynch of the charity. "It really encourages a lot of patients to talk about their problems with breast cancer and breast reconstruction and get together and actually have fun times together."

Their gallery was installed in July after a patient, who was also a local artist, mentioned that the walls could use some livening up. The Plastic Surgery Group heard about Art de Cure soon after and got involved.

"It's very interesting that combination of art and medicine," said Lynch. "And what we do on reconstruction is art by itself."

The work on display in the current gallery will be on sale today and will stay on display until November. At that time a different gallery will be installed at The Plastic Surgery Group by Art de Cure, and the practice can choose another charity to sponsor.

Lynch believes the art galleries will tie in well with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and also raise awareness about the option of breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients.

"It really does beautify the office," he said. "It ... livens up the office as far as interest. Patients wander around and look at the art. It becomes like a gallery when they come in; it takes away from their visits and [nervousness]."

The grand opening will be at The Plastic Surgery Group at 455 Patroon Creek Blvd #101 in Albany. For more information on Carol Hesselink and Art de Cure, log on to cmhCreations.ArtFire.com and www.artdecure.org.

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