University of Pittsburgh Bradford
Traveling exhibition depicts cancer-fighting plants
Autumn Crocus
Autumn crocus

 KOA Art Gallery is hosting “Power Within” an art show of work by Smethport artist Julie Mader depicting cancer-fighting plants. 

            The exhibition of 29 paintings will be on display in Blaisdell Hall through July 3. The gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and will also be open during the McKean County Unit of the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour Relay for Life held on campus from noon June 28 through noon June 29.

            “I’m very excited about the show being on campus during the Relay for Life event and hope that the guest sheet in the gallery will be overflowing with visitor signatures after the weekend,” Mader said.

            Mader said she first had the idea of the traveling exhibition, which is now on its fifth stop in the region, more than a decade ago. “The idea came from witnessing the extreme love and strength of my neighbor Beth Baker and her family as she fought against cancer,” Mader said. “As years passed, I was inspired by additional cancer patients and their families.”

            After meeting with Dr. Eyad  Al-Hattab, an oncologist affiliated with Bradford Regional Medical Center, Mader chose to focus on plants that provide alkaloids used in chemotherapy medicines. She then had the plant list she developed, which includes autumn crocus, birch, English yew, lapacho tree, mayapple, Pacific yew and periwinkle, reviewed by a BRMC pharmacist.

            After researching and selecting plants, Mader took on the challenge of finding reference photographs for each. “The diverse locations that produce the flora depicted in ‘Power Within’ challenged my usual approach of going for a drive to find the next painting subject,” she said.

            “I reached out via the Internet to secure reference photograph resources and was delighted to find caring support and encouragement for ‘Power Within’ from British Columbia to Delaware.”

            The exhibition is supported by a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Grant and has already traveled to sites in Smethport, Bradford, Ridgway and Emporium. Following its engagement in the KOA Gallery, it will travel on to Charles Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport (July 9-31), S.S. Bovard Library in Tionesta (Aug. 8-20), and Jefferson County History Center in Brookville (Aug. 21 through January 2014).

            Mader will attend the Relay for Life on Saturday morning with block prints created for Power Within that will be available to those who make a donation to the relay.

            For more information on Mader or the exhibit, visit her website at