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"Life is a Celebration"

Artist: Lisa Lange
Sponsor: James P. Wilmot Cancer Center

This horse is a true community project. It is covered with the signatures of nearly 1200 cancer survivors, in a joyful and meaningful display of colorful, glued-on shapes.

I started the project by creating a mailing of 10,000 pieces which included a letter, response card, and a slip of printed, then diecut shapes. The mailing was sent out in December 2000 with a return date of January 15, 2001. As the deadline approached, a dedicated team of volunteers, cancer center employees and board members helped to spread the word by taking the primed-white horse to various charitable events, to Eastview Mall during the Christmas season, talking to television stations, and newspaper reporters, and by mentioning it to friends and families. We were overwhelmed with the response, and soon realized that this positive message was one that our community embraced. There was a minimum donation to the cancer center of $5.00 per signature requested, but the average donation was closer to $10.00!

The design was dictated by the quantities of each shape that were returned. The final pattern was mapped out in Adobe Illustrator in 32 evenly-spaced sections, then taped to the horse. In one week, the same dedicated volunteers worked long hours to glue the shapes, following the taped pattern. The party hat was made from plaster and the horn was turned on a lathe by my father and husband. The detail was painted in acrylic paints. He was finally sprayed with 5 coats of urethane, and 2 coats of automotive clear coat.

My biggest concern was having people feel left out if they just hadn't heard of the project in time. Coupled with the knowledge that there will always be cancer survivors, we have decided to continue collecting n(eigh)mes, and create a collection of "Life is a Celebration" gift boxes underneath and around the horse. Currently, there are 2 gift boxes displayed with the horse at Pittsford Wegmans. To request a packet of shapes to sign, call 716-273-4143 and leave a name and address on the voice mail.