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COVID & the Arts: Living Proof

Living Proof Exhibit

A local nonprofit is trying to provide hope and inspiration during these dark times.

Living Proof Exhibit is used to dealing with unseen health crises that cause isolation and fear. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 10-year-old Quad-Cities group is postponing the premiere of a new opera until next February, which was to be performed May 10th. 

Pamela Crouch, Living Proof Executive Director and a breast-cancer survivor, says “Karkinos,” by Augustana professor Jacob Bancks, is an uplifting story of hope and community. It helped her personally last November during a mastectomy.

"The maid's song, that he shared with me, it just connected. It's a message of patience and calm.”

“In my head, I kept singing the chorus, which is slowly, slowly, the bird takes its time to build its nest, and it just brought me calm and it kept me calm while I was in the hospital recovering, and it was such a beautiful gift that he was able to share that with me.”

Living Proof provides therapeutic benefits of the arts to people affected by cancer. The opera tells the story of a beautiful empress, representing a cancer patient, who's forced into battle with the unseen monster Karkinos, cancer, on the night before her coronation. The maid represents cancer survivors and an angel represents the medical community.

In a partnership with the Quad City Symphony, “Karkinos” has been rescheduled with the same soloists at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center at Moline High School next year.

Living Proof also is seeking entries for its annual exhibit to be held September 10 to December 6, at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. All cancer patients and survivors within a 200-mile radius of the Quad-Cities can submit works and entries must be received by June 4.

“We talk a lot about in our programming, keeping your hands busy, to keep your mind and heart calm. A lot of people right now are doing that. They are keeping their hands busy, so they can be calm and create. Any kind of disease takes something away from you, so when you create something tangible, there's a power to it.”

Crouch expects more people will create art this year, due to the self-isolation caused by COVID-19, reflecting the spirit of hope. Complete submission details are available at livingproofexhibit.org.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.
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