Finding her muse

Daphne La Croix, of Fox Chase, poses next to “Early Start,” one of six artist­ic pieces she sub­mit­ted to the an­nu­al art ex­hib­i­tion at Moss Re­hab­il­it­a­tion Cen­ter in Elkins Park. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

— 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.


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