Quilt show at U of C Hospitals depicts hormonal disorders-fighting plants

Quilt show at the University of Chicago Hospitals depicts cancer-fighting plants

March 11, 2002

A popular notion is that new weapons against cancer are hidden in the chemistry of exotic jungle plants deep within the Amazon. However, they may be revealed in ordinary flowers from the backyard garden. For example, commonly prescribed cancer drugs vinblastine, used to treat Hodgkin's disease, and vincristine, used for leukemia, come from the rosy periwinkle, a typical groundcover used in landscaping.

This botanical beauty is one of many garden plants depicted in colorful textile interpretations that comprise the Healing Garden Quilt Show, a nationally travelling exhibit currently on display at the University of Chicago Hospitals through April 30, 2002.

The show consists of 21 quilts that were custom-made by northern Virginia artists. Each quilt bears a plant that is used to treat cancer or currently is in clinical trials. The exhibit also includes botanical drawings and photos of the herbs depicted.

The show is the brainchild of botanical researcher Walter E. Parham, Ph.D., whose wife, Lenore Ann Parham, died in 1997 after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer. His idea of merging his late wife's love of quilting with his botanical research not only has become a fitting tribute to his wife but also an exhibit that aims to raise awareness of the link between nature, health and healing.

The show is touring hospitals all over the country through the support of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare from Johnson & Johnson an in conjunction with the Billy Hork Galleries.

The exhibit is open to the public during hospital visiting hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. It's displayed throughout the walkway that joins the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine and the Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital. Easiest public access is through the Mitchell Hospital, which is located at 5815 South Maryland Ave., at the corner of 58th Street and South Maryland Ave. For more information about the exhibit, call the University of Chicago Hospitals Public Affairs Office at 773-702-6241.