I created this piece for cancer survivor Erin Zammett Ruddy. 100% of the profit from its sale has been donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in a successful effort to help her reach her goal of raising $100,000 (she managed to raise over $178,000 and won the New York chapter LLS Woman of the Year. Congratulations, Erin!) She ran in honor of her 10 year “Cancerversary” and the fact that she and her sister, Melissa, also a cancer survivor, are not only surviving, they're thriving.
During our first discussion, Erin requested a wine rack to symbolize the comfort she found in sharing & enjoying wine with her loved ones. Initially, I thought I would make something positive and beautiful, symbolic of Erin and her incredible story. But after reading her first Glamour Magazine column “Life with Cancer", I was astounded thinking about what it would feel like to hear such horrific news from a doctor. It put a pit in my stomach – I had a truly visceral reaction. The truth is, there’s nothing pretty about cancer. This was my inspiration.
The plumbing pipes are meant to elicit a reaction; symbolic of the difficult times Erin and Melissa endured. To counterbalance this harshness, I used the warmth of wood to form the inverse shape, creating a heart; symbolic of the love that surrounds the sisters. Although this form is easily recognizable, there's more; the wood and pipe intersect to form a ribbon -- a universal symbol of the effort to join forces and defeat this horrible disease (thank you EJ Jacobs at www.topcoatmagazine.com
for recognizing that and bringing it to my attention!)
The two sets of three glass holders represent Erin with her sisters on one side and her parents on the other. The three unions represent the relationships that Erin has chosen with her husband, Nick, and their children, Alex and Nora. The merchant couplings that hold the bottles all have a stamp on them: USA, Canada, Japan, France; marking the country in which they were made. The fifth coupling just has an X. I chose these different fittings, especially the X, to represent the fact that cancer does not discriminate – it attacks people from all over the planet. They are positioned in two sets; one of two and the other three; Erin was 23 when she was diagnosed. The set of three forms an equilateral triangle, representing the balance that we all should have in our lives but are often only made aware of when we face these challenges and the concealed knife on the corkscrew represents the strength that we must find within ourselves to overcome them. As a bonus, there is a sixth coupling on the backside to hold a lucky “emergency” bottle. Finally, both the plumbing fittings and wood are reclaimed, symbolic of the second chance at life both Erin and Melissa have been granted.