Karen Yee passed away over the weekend after a 13-year battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Her husband, Richard, said it best on the announcement he posted on Karen’s FB page:
“She fought a brave, fierce and remarkable battle for over 13 years with one of the most aggressive and rare forms of cancer, and she fought with everything she had, to the very end. She was the most courageous woman I have ever known. In addition, she was a wonderful mother to our two beautiful daughters, and a very talented artist whose paintings, which served as a form of healing for her cancer diagnosis, have been enjoyed by so many.”
ART AS A FORM OF HEALING
Though Karen’s earthly journey and battles are now ended, it’s no less truthful to say that art heals. Succumbing to cancer is not a failed fight—the victory is in how Karen lived as she went through treatment that evidenced the healing power of her art. She was a beloved wife, a devoted mother, and a woman willing to embrace her passion to paint even in the face of serious illness. That, my friends, is living proof of healing at work.
You can read how Karen explains the healing power of art in her own words in the About the Artist on her website, but in a nutshell she says that surviving the first round of the battle in 2003 empowered her to wait no longer to pursue her desire to paint. Karen successfully used the past 13 years to create a body of work that both allowed her a creative outlet even as she battled the effects of cancer treatment, and also used the form to document her cancer journey through a series of self-portraits. Here’s a link to an insightful and powerful article written by Bondo Wyszpolski on those self-portraits.
Facing one’s mortality head-on evokes all kinds of responses, but Karen allowed the experience to keep her grounded in the here and now. No more putting off what mattered most for later, and her passion to paint was something she’d long wanted to do for herself. So she did it, and she did it well even as she kept up the other pieces of her life. In just 13 years she earned countless awards, fine-tuned a painting style all her own, and got to experience the dream come true of painting. Painting was a form of self-care for Karen, and we get the added bonus of forever having her work to remind us of her warrior spirit. Living well is not selfish. It’s rather an example for her daughter to follow and her friends and loved ones to remember warmly.
We recently posted a Q&A with Karen on September 9, 2016. Let Karen tell you in her own words what her art meant to her.
Godspeed, Karen Yee. We are grateful we got to work with you, and that we had the opportunity to share your art with our community of artists.