WESTWOOD, N.J. — The memory of 7-year-old Josephine Rispoli lives on in a Westwood storefront that her mother has transformed into her 3rd annual art show, "Josephine's Journey."
Heidi Hartung Rispoli of Saddle River took creative control of her death, caused by a rare form of brain cancer, to raise awareness toward pediatric cancer through her artwork at 37 Westwood Ave. The exhibit runs through Sat., Oct. 3 in the space donated by Bruce Meisel of First Westwood Realty.
“It’s like my form of guerrilla marketing,” Rispoli said.The exhibit includes 13 photographs documenting Josephine’s 13-month journey, as well as a wall sculpture and Josephine’s last piece of artwork, which she made on a pillow case — and is now the center of a quilt hanging in the exhibit.
“Innocence, Suffering and Peace,” a three-photograph series, captures Josephine in the same position soon after her 2010 diagnosis, the day she died and in her coffin.
The large photographs are accompanied by three corresponding dresses — some sewn by Rispoli — to reflect the garments Josephine is wearing in each piece.
“When your child dies, you don’t want your kid to be forgotten,” said Rispoli, who in 2012 transformed a courtyard on the fifth floor of Hackensack University Medical Center into “Josephine’s Garden.”
A cocktail party to benefit Josephine's Garden Fund, will be on Wed., Oct. 14, at the Designer Showhouse of New Jersey at HUMC.
“Josephine wasn’t born sick - none of these kids were born sick,” Rispoli said. “Our kids were basically stolen from us.”
Rispoli's exhibit features a “Wall of Warriors” — photographs of pediatric cancer patients in the community who have since passed on.
“It’s about awareness,” she said. “I hope that by touching people’s hearts they’ll have a chance to give.”
GALLERY HOURS: Wednesdays, noon-3; Thursdays, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
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