Central Ohio artist Julie Abijanac&rsquo;s message: There is beauty and hope everywhere, even in cancer cells. Abijanac was diagnosed with Hodgkin&rsquo;s lymphoma 15 years ago. The cancer-themed work she created during her treatment and in the ensuing years were displayed in The James Art Gallery in 2019. &ldquo;For me, I had to have a positive outlook after I was diagnosed,&rdquo; Abijanac explains. &ldquo;I needed to feel like I had a purpose, and my purpose was to communicate my experience through a visual moment.&rdquo; These visual moments are a series of textural, delicate, sometimes subtle and often powerful sculptural representations of cancer in several different stages of growth and metastasis, created in paper and fiber. &ldquo;Cell Mutation&rdquo; is an example. This unfinished, still-growing sculpture is made of glass beads, nylon, poly-fiber and thread, and represents cancer cells multiplying, dividing and spreading. &ldquo;Typically, my pieces continue to grow and grow until they&rsquo;re finished,&rdquo; Abijanac says. &ldquo;Putting them up now, before they&rsquo;re finished, is a good way to see if the piece is working.&rdquo; A caring curator When Michelle Brandt, owner of the Brandt-Roberts Gallery, was asked to curate an exhibit at the James Art Gallery, she immediately thought of Abijanac. &ldquo;Julie found a way to take something tragic that can happen, and through a renewal process, she has created an art form that&rsquo;s really beautiful,&rdquo; Brandt says. Brandt has a personal connection to the work of Abijanac, and The James, where she was treated after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018. &ldquo;My scans are clean right now and I&rsquo;m really grateful to be here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The James is amazing. I was not only treated physically, but also with art therapy and meditation. Cancer is as much a battle of mind as it is physically.&rdquo; A new way to create When Abijanac, an associate professor at Columbus College of Art &amp; Design, was diagnosed, her art was primarily oil-based paintings and metal sculptures that required welding. Creating art is who she is, and something Abijanac needed to do during her treatment to help her feel whole and in control of her life &mdash; but there was an issue. &ldquo;My doctor was like, you can do these things, paint with oil paints and use metal and weld, but they&rsquo;re toxic and you have to wear a mask and gloves,&rdquo; she says. That wouldn&rsquo;t work for Abijanac, a hands-on artist who needs the connection from touch in order to create. &ldquo;I had to find a new way to create and renew who I was as a maker,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I taught myself how to crochet while I was in treatment. I also work in paper and fibers.&rdquo; Creating art helped Abijanac manage her stress and anxiety, and the uncertainty about her future. &ldquo;When you&rsquo;re sick with something that could potentially take your life, I had to figure out a way to continue and live and be here, besides my family and friends,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This is an extension of who I am.&rdquo; She was inspired, in part, by the magnified views of the slides of her cancer cells. &ldquo;The challenge was, how do I take these beautiful field stains, and the design elements in them, and create art,&rdquo; Abijanac says. Over the years, as Abijanac recovered and has remained in remission, her art continued to focus on cancer. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve lost many friends to cancer, and I&rsquo;ve many who have survived,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I want the best outcome for everyone, and it&rsquo;s hard to come to grips with the fact that I&rsquo;m one of the lucky ones who made it. Why was I chosen? All we can do is talk to each other about getting through it and help each other and be positive for each other.&rdquo; The gift of art The James Art gallery features a series of exhibits from talented artists. There are also more than 30 original pieces of art located throughout the hospital. Abijanac hopes her exhibit will bring beauty and hope to James patients, as well as their family members and friends. &ldquo;What I hope people take from this is that there is beauty in the natural process of the body,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I hope that people will relate, and that it will give them some hope.&rdquo; The James Art Gallery is located at the top of the grand staircase in the lobby of the James Cancer Hospital. Get more information on the hospital&rsquo;s art program and self-guided walking tour.