R.I.P. Laura Tyler, Who Fought Cancer Through Art

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Laura Tyler, a Houston artist we wrote about in October of 2009, passed away last Friday at about 1:30 in the morning after a seven-year battle with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

The death was relatively sudden and unexpected, according to her husband Matthew Tyler.

"She was very strong, a very outgoing person," Matthew Tyler tells Hair Balls. "She was always very real."

When Hair Balls talked to Laura last fall, she said this of her art: "It's my investment, not just for my child or my husband or my family or my friends, but it's an investment for the world." She painted Love and Light Reverberated, pictured at the top of this post, to represent "something that stands true and present over everything else that would jade you in this life."

Matthew Tyler says his favorite painting done by his wife is a piece titled Knowledge. "I think it's because I watched her paint it," he says. "It was her first really big piece that she did, and it was just neat to see her make it."

Matthew wants to continue to get his wife's art seen by the public. He's working to get some of it used for a United Way campaign, and there are plans to show her paintings at H Gallery sometime this spring or early summer.

Tyler also left behind an on-line journal at her site on deviantART.com, writing about coping with cancer, raising her child and the reasoning behind many of her paintings. From an entry titled "Unfinished Things":

Not necessarily the painting that I have, and its dirty dishes in a sink below a broken window... but about things in our lives that may never happen. You may be surprised to know that I have NO varnish on my paintings. It is one thing I want to do so badly, but just never seem to get done.

I have one specific painting... it is a landscape of a place in the antarctic, a snowy-ice beach covered in all these mermaid beings... They all have their backs to the viewer and they are looking out across the horizon, waiting. That painting is only 1/3 finished, and will probably never be, for the things for which I'm waiting will likely never come.

In the months before Tyler's death, she had mainly worked on pencil drawings, her husband says, the same kind of work she did as a young woman while serving as a caretaker for her grandmother because her grandmother was dying of cancer.

"[Laura's later work] was a little bit different. She had changed her work when she did the "Gone to Hell" show," Matthew Tyler says. "She got tired of looking at all the same paintings on the wall."

Tyler says that a memorial for Laura is planned at their house for family and friends only. "She didn't want anything big," he says.

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