Art with superhero power unveiled
Everyone in the room gasped out of admiration when the black cloak that covered the painting was shed and the portrait of Anca Sima was revealed at the Owatonna Hospital through the Healing Arts Program reception on Nov. 17.
The portrait, painted by Barbara Porwit, is colorful, full of life and a beautiful rendering of Sima, a Romanian spitfire battling stage 4 Follicular lymphoma. Artist Porwit described Sima as the “pied piper of St. Paul,” for she is a bright personality and always has a gaggle of friends.
The portrait of Sima is of her with her arms stretched out with butterfly wings. The painting is called the “Butterfly of Rio” and was inspired by a photo of Sima smiling in the streets of Rio de Janiero with a pair of festival wings on her back.
When Sima was first diagnosed and faced with the decisions of treatment and surgery, she decided to first go to Rio de Janiero with a gaggle of friends.
Sima said that her decision to go on the trip before surgery concerned nurses. “My nurse said if you go, you could die there, and I said ‘well, what is a better place to die? I don’t care’,” laughed Sima. “I thought should I be afraid, and I said to myself ‘no!’”
Sima has coped well with treatments thus far. As a Pilates and yoga instructor, her fitness is only helping her in treatments.
Many aspects of Sima’s journey to Rio de Janiero are incorporated in the Porwit’s painting. Her arms are outstretched much like the famous Rio statue of “Christ the Redeemer” with festival wings behind. Also incorporated, by Sima’s wishes, is a necklace with a locket of “Christ the Redeemer” hanging around her neck.
“I had to have that. I have to have my Jesus,” said Sima. “For me, that is a symbol of inspiration. I think he is keeping me alive. He is the best power I have, so I insisted that it be in the painting, and I am very stubborn.”
Sima’s painting is part of artist Porwit’s project mission to emphasize the unique spirit and truly heroic qualities that the individual women fighting breast cancer contain. Sima’s portrait and the other portraits currently hang on the walls of the Owatonna Hospital.
Porwit began the project when she felt like most of the women she knew, loved and adored were being diagnosed with breast cancer. As a scared spectator of friends and acquaintances going through medical hardships, Porwit felt she had to do something.
“I just thought what do I have to give? What can I contribute? And I had this idea of everyday superheroes,” said Porwit. “I just thought there is something to this idea of reimagining the self as a superhero. So I finally said to myself ‘I am going to dig in and freakin’ do this!’”
To reveal the painting in front of the subject, Sima, was nothing short of inspirational for Porwit. “It was like the whole project manifested itself into this one moment,” said Porwit. “I have a great responsibility as the artist to render these women as powerful as our imaginations can allow.”
Porwit explained that much of the inspiration of the project is to give women some sense of control in a battle against cancer that they might not have as much control over.
Sima said that the project was so important to her over the past few months. “It cleared my mind and made me feel powerful, in a silly way,” explained Sima. She said that as soon as she left the artist reception, she was going to share a photo of the painting with all of her friends via social media and other sources.
Sima said that her family and friends are just as excited as she is about the painting. Her family is already inquiring to Porwit about ways in which to purchase scanned reproductions of the image for Christmas.
“My daughters can tolerate the portrait because my mouth is closed,” laughed the chatty Sima. “They think that I talk too much. I wear them out.”
Needless to say, as Sima and her family and friends head into the holiday season, they are thankful for the gift of her life and all the positivity that she brings to life itself.