Relay for Life hosts art exhibit of luminarias

These samples of luminaria, submitted by Attleboro Arts Museum Executive Director and Chief Curator Mims Brooks Fawcett, illustrate the kind of artwork that will be created by several museum-affiliated artists at the museum during the "Creating Awareness" exhibit that will be held during the Winter Night Festival from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 in conjunction with the Relay for Life of Greater Attleboro. Courtesy photo

The Relay for Life of Greater Attleboro and the Attleboro Arts Museum will continue their ongoing partnership by teaming up for an art exhibition during the city’s Winter Night Festival, 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The festival will return to downtown Attleboro for the first time since 2020, when it was held weeks before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown halted all large gatherings and closed the museum for a while. The art exhibit inside the museum, one of the festival’s organizers, will be one of several events going on that day. Hayrides, a giant bonfire, food trucks, illuminated jugglers and stilt walkers will be among the activities featured during the festival.

The museum and the relay, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, held a week-long art exhibit three years ago entitled “Luminaria.” That exhibit ended on the night of that year’s festival. This year, the organizations will team up to hold a live artmaking exhibit to support the 25th anniversary of the local relay, which will be held June 16-17 at Norton High School.

The exhibit, “Creating Awareness—Artists Work to Illuminate and Support,” is the brainchild of Museum Executive Director and Chief Curator Mim Brooks Fawcett. The exhibit will feature several museum-affiliated artists using the cancer society’s luminaria bags to create art in various styles. The bags are traditionally lit during the relay to pay tribute to cancer survivors or to memorialize cancer victims.

That exhibit will share gallery space with a community art show titled, “Influencer—An Exhibition of Permanent Collection Work and Contemporary Impressions.”

“Artists will use the white paper luminaria bags as their canvas and make their mark on the bags in their own style,” Fawcett said. “Artists will be working live in the gallery during the festival, using their chosen artmaking technique—acrylic painting, illustrating in pencil/marker, collage, printmaking, ink wash—to embellish one or more bags.”

The artists will leave a section blank on one side of the bag to be filled in with the name of a survivor or cancer victim. Those bags will be auctioned off during this year’s relay and will be displayed at the June event. Blank luminaries also will be offered for purchase in exchange for donations to the cancer society.

Raising awareness about cancer and the need for people to get screened regularly—a vital tool toward detecting cancers at treatable early stages that sharply declined during the pandemic—are also key aspects of this exhibit. That’s why the Relay for Life is particularly pleased to continue its partnership with the museum, said Brianna Apruzzese, a senior development manager for the society’s Northeast region and the liaison to the local relay’s organizing committee.

“At the American Cancer Society, we work on improving the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research and patient support to ensure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer,” Apruzzese said.

“With the help of community partners just like the Attleboro Arts Museum, we have seen a 33 percent decline in cancer mortality since 1991, which attributes to 3.8 million fewer cancer deaths, but there is always more work to be done. We could not be more excited to be partnering on the Winter Night Festival again this year to work together on ending cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

The art exhibit will double as the official kickoff for this year’s relay, and all teams and individuals, both returning and new, are invited to attend.

Members of the local organizing committee as well as representatives of the relay’s community partners, the museum and the Attleboro Public Library, will be on hand to discuss the relay and answer any questions. The Winter Night Festival’s rain date is Sunday, Feb. 19.

The Relay For Life of Greater Attleboro draws teams and participants from most area communities, including Attleboro, North Attleboro, Mansfield, Norton, Plainville, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Wrentham, but interested people from any community are encouraged to attend both the Feb. 18 art exhibit and the June relay in Norton. If you’d like to form or join a team or volunteer for the relay, go to: