Finding her muse
— Fox Chase artist Daphne La Croix hasn't let numerous health problems stop her from doing what she loves the most: sharing her work with others.
Fox Chase’s Daphne La Croix hasn’t let a series of health setbacks keep her from pursuing her passion.
La Croix has chronic lymphedema of the left arm and a damaged retina of the left eye, and is a stage three breast cancer survivor.
Still, she manages to dabble in art.
In fact, she’s pretty darn good.
La Croix’s work can be found at All About Art at MossRehab, an exhibition that is open to the public through July 1 at the Elkins Park rehabilitation center.
The exhibit showcases the work of artists with various physical disabilities. Each artist can submit up to six pieces for consideration, and final selections were made in December.
The criterion, like in any other art show, is the quality of the work. In 2011, for example, just one of La Croix’s four submissions was accepted.
“You have to be OK’d to be in the show. It’s a juried show. It’s curated,” La Croix said. “All six works got in the show this year. I’m very, very pleased. It was a really nice holiday gift.”
The exhibition debuted in 1979 as the International Exhibition by Artists with Physical Disabilities, an initiative of MossRehab and the Friends of Moss.
After a few years off, the exhibit returned in 2005 and has become an annual event.
This year’s exhibit, which opened April 29, features works by 86 artists and fine craft artisans. There are exhibitors from throughout the United States, along with a couple from Canada and one from France.
In all, there are 318 sculptures or works on walls, along with 300 pieces of jewelry.
Mediums include oil and watercolor painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and needlepoint. All of it is for sale, ranging from $24 to $3,000, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Voices of MossRehab Aphasia Center, which assists people with a communications disorder.
The 2012 artists have a multitude of serious physical disabilities, such as multiple sclerosis, degenerative bone disease, spina bifida, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome and legal blindness.
A South Dakota woman, Karla Harnois, has cerebral palsy and paints with her mouth, with her neck muscles moving the brush on the canvas.
“The range and quality of the artwork is amazing. It’s professional level,” said Nancy Pageau, an art consultant and co-curator of the exhibit. “People are amazed when they come in. It’s an exceptional show. It’s inspiring, uplifting, free, and the price range is pretty reasonable.”
La Croix earned an associate degree in graphic design in 1983 from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She’s also taken courses in painting, drawing and printmaking in Philadelphia and New York, though she’s basically self taught.
Over the years, there have been challenges.
The artist’s breast cancer has been in remission for 18 years, after treatments at Albert Einstein Hospital. She also overcame cancer in her eye. Her left arm is lame due to the chronic lymphedema.
“Thank God I’m right-handed,” she said. “The CL will be with me the rest of my life.”
La Croix, whose work has appeared in five shows over the years, said she and the other artists are delighted with this year’s exhibit.
“Nancy and the others did a wonderful job selecting the work and hanging the work,” she said. “They’re super to all of us. They make us feel like a million dollars.”
La Croix’s specialties are figures and interiors.
“I like working with a figure. It’s challenging, and I think people can relate,” she said.
La Croix’s favorite piece in the exhibit is Early Start, a 16-by-20-inch acrylic and oil pastel on canvas. It includes a man sleeping, a woman sitting in the foreground writing a list of daily activities and a dog greeting her.
The artist likes it because of its warmth and the complexity of the composition. Often, dogs are included in her work.
“There are a lot of dog lovers out there, though I own a cat,” she said.
The other works include Raspberry Swirl and Mulberry Burst. In addition, there are three digital photographs of collaged elements titled Man, African Queen and Woman, all part of her Bread Head Series.
All six pieces were created in 2011, giving La Croix a collection of about 50 works.
“Her strengths are when she does acrylics and oils,” Pageau said. “Usually, there’s a story in there.”
Up next for La Croix is completion of more figures and interiors. One work is tentatively titled “Cocktail Party.” Another piece, “The Visit,” offers a look at three events taking place in different rooms of a woman’s house.
“I’m very proud. I think they’re my best works to date,” she said. ••
Get the picture . . .
The public can view All About Art at MossRehab daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through July 1.
MossRehab, part of the Einstein Healthcare Network, is located at 60 Township Line in Elkins Park, Montgomery County.
For more information or to schedule a group tour, call Julie Hensler-Cullen at 215-663-6100.