Chicago artist Cecelia Colón channels Afro-Puerto Rican grandmother in latest exhibit

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Colón uses art as a healing process

ByBlanca Rios WLS logo
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Chicago artist Cecelia Colón channels Afro-Puerto Rican grandmother in latest exhibit
Cecelia Colón's art exhibit debuts Saturday at the Honeycomb Network in Chicago's Humboldt Park.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "My name is the patron saint of art music and poetry," said Cecelia Colón. "I've always called myself an artist as a kid. I never said like you're going to be an artist, or you have to go to school to be an artist, I just always know that I was."

Colón grew up in Chicago. She's a self-taught artist who uses mixed media and natural elements in her work.

But Colón says she has no control over her creations. Her ideas come to her through visions that she believes are her ancestors, specifically her grandmother, whose roots were Afro-Puerto Rican.

"I feel like I'm elevating her to a space where there's no more need for her to feel she's not enough that she's not worthy, because of the way she was treated, the conditioning that was put on her because of the color of her skin and all that. She's a queen I'm putting her back on her throne," Colón said.

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In December, Colon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has undergone two rounds of chemo.

She finished the last part of her of her new 33-piece exhibit right after the last day of radiation.

"I was throwing up , I couldn't hold down food, I've lost a lot of weight, I lost over 67 pounds," said Colón. "This is the most pieces I've ever done in an exhibit. "I had the most energy creating than I've ever had in my live, like I said I don't think I think this was of me, I think this was coming through me, I was just a vessel of my ancestors coming through."

The exhibit opens to the public at the Honeycomb Network in Humboldt Park on Saturday, her 57th birthday.

"Cecelia is a warrior and she's a brilliant artist, and her works needs to be known, what she creates, she creates from her heart space, from her spirit space, and you're not going to leave her art exhibition unmoved, you're not going to leave untouched," said Denise Ruiz, co-founder of the Honeycomb Network.

"It's very empowering to know that I'm connected to people who came before me, they're suffering, they're struggles and all the things that they endured, allow me to be where I'm at now speaking on this. For me I'm grateful to honor my grandmother throughout this entire exhibit," said Colón.