Snapshot of life with cancer wins at LTCC art exhibit |

Snapshot of life with cancer wins at LTCC art exhibit

Susan Wood
Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Lake Tahoe Community College students Leah Bonham, left, and Catherine Coy check out a sculpture by artist Francis Rider titled "Leaning Tower of Pigsa" at the student art show.

If you think art is a relative thing, just ask Julie Zeid.

She took Lake Tahoe Community College’s high honors in winning “Best of Show” for her black and white photography series of an 88-year-old South Lake Tahoe woman who survived breast cancer.

The art will be on display through June 13 at the college. It was recognized at the annual Student Art Competition reception Sunday, which brought out more than 200 people to the Commons area.

Before Zeid underwent the project, she had had no contact with cancer survivors, either in her family or among close friends. But Thelma, the subject of the photo series, put a face to the issue.

The experience enlightened her, she said. It’s also prompted her to do more breast exams.

“It’s something that’s never been diagnosed in my family,” Zeid said, adding she received the idea from a fellow photography student. It was one of the few times photography had taken the top honor, department head Doug Highland said. He stood back and watched as his student negotiated a flood of attention and hugs from admirers and friends.

“She works very diligently,” he said.

“Thelma” begins with a close-up image of a ribbon, the symbol of surviving breast cancer.

It leads into a pathological report and continues into a photograph of Thelma, who received a mastectomy. It ends with a patient statement.

“It was supposed to tell a story,” Zeid said.

Ben Brown, who captured awards for his exhibit “Cold and Alone” as well as for being the emerging artist of the year in painting and drawing, knows how easy it is to immerse oneself in the work.

“You literally put yourself in your piece. Art for me is deep rooted. It’s not just something to sell,” said Brown, flanked by a proud set of parents, Sandy and Michael “Chewy” Pease.

Brown has been a self-proclaimed artist since he was 2 years old, but he just started taking classes to channel his focus. He signs his work with his blood.

The wide array of pieces on display show a variety of materials and students willing to give up the sweat and persistence it takes to come up with honored artwork.

Some of the work seems Tahoe specific – including Francis Rider’s work titled “Spring.” She concocted a push mower on a bed of grass made out of needles.

Entry in the Student Art Competition requires that the work be produced in the last year. Students must be enrolled in the college.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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