Art as a healing vehicle for cancer

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Do you have cancer or are you a survivor? If so, please consider this offer. My name is Gerry Biron. I’m an artist from southern Vermont and I have been doing portraits of people for 50 years. During that period, I exhibited my work in over 400 shows nationwide where I won numerous first place and best-of-show awards, and have had my portraits of American Indians featured in seven museum exhibits.

Gerry Biron. Photo Provided

In 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer and went through seven months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. As you can imagine, that changed my life in a very dramatic way. It also changed my art and that development was what sustained me throughout that period. The drawings I produced while I was dealing with cancer became the basis for a style of portraiture that strives to personify the subject’s spirit. It is a departure from my previous, representational work and in a strange way, it was a gift from my cancer. I decided that I would like to share this gift with other cancer patients.

So this is an appeal to anyone who is either going through cancer treatments or has been through it. I’m asking if you would honor me by allowing me to do your portrait that when it is completed, I will honor you in turn by giving it to you. For me, this is about creating a meaningful portrait that tells your story and helps you in a small way in your struggle with this disease. There is absolutely no charge for this.

Honoring ceremonies have long played a vital role in American Indian culture. American Indians honor people for many reasons ranging from marriage, graduation and other notable life accomplishments. It is also done to provide courage and determination to individuals who are on a journey conquering life’s difficulties. People who are suffering with cancer need to be honored and commended for their strength and resolve to overcome adversity. It is important for each of us to encourage those who are suffering from this illness; to look out for each other is vital to our society and existence.

Art is often born of human experience, both positive and negative. As an artist of American Indian descent and a cancer patient myself, this is a way for me to honor those who aer going through a similar ordeal. I lost both my parents to cancer as well as several good friends so this disease has touched me I more ways than one. Every day 5000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed; it has become a fact of life for many of us.

My cancer forced me to change direction in my art, to develop a new style, and it especially taught me to be more compassionate. Buddha once said that a spiritual person is one who learns to recognize, then works to alleviate the suffering of others. It is a practical form of spirituality that many of us can relate to.

This is of Caroline Naberezny. She is a 65-year-old mother of two, grandmother of three and a widow who is currently undergoing treatment for stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Caroline and her partner, Robert John (RJ) of Westminster, are musicians. Caroline has sung in many choral groups and plays several instruments. “Music has certainly been my saving grace during life’s hard times and has always led me to push myself further. There is never a time when I don’t have a song in my head,” says Caroline. She and RJ are a part of the local musical community and they get together to jam with friends as often as possible.
“As our daily challenges get a little longer and tougher with this cancer,” says Caroline, “we just laugh and say turn up the music!”
Photo provided

If you are interested in having your portrait done and you live within a hour drive of southern Vermont, message me and I will be in touch. I can come by your home or we can meet in a mutually convenient place to discuss your portrait. If you live further away than that, I would still be honored to do your portrait but you would need to travel here. I would need less than a hour of your time to do this. I take some photographs of you and work from them to create your portrait.

Each portrait is done in full color and the final size is 22 x 30 inches. It is a mixed-media, comprised of graphite, colored pencils and ink.

If you know of someone who is dealing with cancer and might have an interest in this, please share this opportunity with them. You can see a completed portrait at, or you can view portraits and individuals at Alternately you can call me at 802-869-2077 or email me at To view my full portfolio visit

If you would like to help support this art healing project visit


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