A community-based art project that seeks to connect communities through pulling up a chair and sharing stories of positivity about Strong Women of Toledo.

Artwork by Gina Scherzer

Story from Patrick Tansey

On World Storytelling Day, I had the pleasure of escorting Patrick to the space in the Collingwood Art Center where he'd be telling his story. Little did I know, The Collingwood Art Center has been his since it's inception. Pat had us laughing and crying. And, by the end of his storytelling, I wanted to give him a hug, I felt like I knew him. It was at the point where he paused to discuss his daughter and her struggle with a son who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. This is where he had me. Out of his many stories of strong women in the area, I knew this was one I wanted to explore. Little did I know that I'd be assigned his stories. 

As a young teen, I volunteered at a Summer Cystic Fibrosis Camp, giving children and other teens a way to escape from the troubles of their lives. The 3 children across the street also had this genetic disease that took their lives in their early twenties. How devastating it must be, as a parent, to know from an early age that they would outlive their child. After studying up on Cystic Fibrosis (CF), I read that breathing through a straw for just 60 seconds gives you a small glimpse of what it's like to live with CF. I tried it and lasted a whole 30 seconds before I gave in. With this thought in mind, I took to watercolors and a straw to cover a paper with pigment by simply blowing out of a straw. This too was hard. I was light headed at the end, like I had just blown up balloon after balloon. With this, I took the word breathe and placed it on the paper. The word expands to not only the CF victims but everyone it effects, including Patrick's daughter, Sheila. 

The pattern in the background is hand sketched baby's breath turned into vector to represent the lungs. Baby's breath is a symbol of everlasting love, pureness and innocence. To me, this fits perfectly to the disease. Everlasting love from the mother, who sat by her sons side as he fought. Pureness and innocence for Kevin, the victim of the disease.

I also want to take a moment to note all of the other women in Pat's life. It was tough to pick just one story to focus on, from his own mother, to those who gave to the arts and served for our country, they are all strong and beautiful. And, special mention to his wife, Rita. After researching the family, I put her face to his name. Rita was one of my 6th grade teachers. It's interesting to know the teacher beyond the classroom. And, I'm thankful for the stories he shared. 

- Gina Scherzer, Artist

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