The relentless creativity of Matt Freedman

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

Matt Freedman has worked as an illustrator for THE ONION, so it is no surprise that he brings a touch of humor to what could be considered a tough read – a memoir of his time undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for cancer. He bills the book – RELATIVELY INDOLENT BUT RELENTLESS – as a “cancer journal” and it is at turns, witty, beautiful and brave. Freedman teaches in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and upon learning of his cancer diagnosis, his colleagues and students banded together to give him a 240 page notebook that he could fill – 4 pages a day with charming drawings and handwritten text – during the 2 months of his treatment in Boston. Jane Irish who also works in the Fine Arts Dept. and herself an artist and sculptor, has known Matt for years and comments astutely on his art and process. Freedman and Irish both still work at Penn, and Freedman still has cancer. In fact, the title of the book refers to the diagnosis of his type of cancer: it is relatively painless and slow growing, but will ultimately and relentlessly overcome him without the treatment he receives in Boston. The book details that time, and FRIDAY ARTS follows up where the book leaves off, and highlights Matt’s relentless creativity in the face of adversity.

Jane Irish finds her inspiration

Jane Irish, artist and graduate administrator at the University of Pennsylvania, finds inspiration all around her. Both a friend and coworker of Matt Freedman, she recognizes his talent and resilience when fighting cancer. Jane explains how her relationship with Matt and her students has influenced her art for the better. Edited by Ellen Francis

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