Monday, May 3, 2010
Cordula Volkening was born in Germany, and attended the School of Art and Design in Kiel, Germany. She immigrated to New York in 1985, but it wasn't until she was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer that art changed from a passion to a career.
Prior to her diagnosis in the summer of 2007, she worked mainly in interior construction design and renovations and raised her two children. Once diagnosed and given a one year prognosis, she literally began sketching right in the hospital and then when discharged went to work painting- creating 30 new works in the first three months after her diagnosis.
She wrote on her Myspace page in Nov. 2007, "I paint in between my radiation, chemotherapy and my daily session of are you kidding me... "
She did multiple art shows, often with fatalistic titles such as "Would You Like an Invitation to My Destination?" and "Transition: May We Go to the Places that Scare Us"
In January of 2009 the disease had progressed, and when given the option to prolong life with more chemo, yet render her too weak to paint, the decision was clear; no more treatments. A true palliative decision, since she valued making art over quantity of days.
A quote from a New York Times article by Corey Killgannon profiling her in Feb. 2009 states, "She said the terminal illness has simplified things, washing away the worry and petty preoccupations that almost made life harder when she had plenty of it. And she has never felt more connected to the canvas and to her creativity."
Other quotes from the article:
"she calls every painting a "gift" from the cancer"
"her painting style is shaped by one thing, 'I have nothing to lose'"
Cordula died April 22nd, 2009.
To see more of her paintings visit a slide show "A Passion for Art, Through Cancer", or Cordula's MySpace page. Also, interviews with her on Youtube. This first set done earlier in her disease is quite a contrast to the NY Times video done a few months before her death.