Editor’s note: Laura Petrovich-Cheney MFA ’11 graduated with Kristin Osgood Lamelas as part of the inaugural class of the MFA program at Moore. She wrote this piece as a tribute to her friend and to accompany the upcoming exhibition which she, the rest of the 2011 MFA class and members of the Osgood Lamelas family secured.
Works by Kristin Osgood Lamelas BFA ’94 MFA ’11 will be on display at the Abington Art Center as part of their Winter Solo Series 2022 from February 25 to April 3, 2022. The opening reception will be held Friday, February 25 from 6 to 8 pm. There will be two artist talks: Saturday, March 12, 10 am – 12 pm and Saturday, April 2, 10 am – 12 pm. Visit the Abington Art Center’s website before your visit to stay up to date with the latest information.
Kristin Osgood Lamelas was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey. Kristin was such a bright light: a loving wife, a sister, a good friend, a caring mother, a daughter, a teacher and a true friend. Most of all, Kris was a brilliant artist. She studied classical painting in Florence, Italy; Philadelphia, Brooklyn and California. Her artwork is in numerous private collections and in the permanent collection at Moore College of Art & Design. Additionally, her work has been exhibited in Venice, Italy; Bermuda and Ireland. She received both her BFA and MFA from Moore College of Art & Design. In 2011, she donated a kidney to her father. Since then, her mixed-media paintings reference aerial views of specific landscapes and images of cells from her own body. In her most recent work, she explored how environmental toxins and climate change affect her body as well as the earth.
She was a dedicated high school photography teacher for 18 years in West Deptford, NJ. She had a passion for teaching art, and she exhibited her own students’ work so professionally, you felt as if you were in a New York gallery. Not surprisingly, she was awarded the Art Educators of New Jersey’s Teacher of the Year award in 2008. Kris also selflessly dedicated her time to promoting and supporting women in the arts as the president of the Women’s Caucus for Art in Philadelphia for several years.
On October 7, 2019, Kris participated in a blood drive, and was rejected for low hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin for men is 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter; for women, it’s 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter. She was at 9. Within a few weeks, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of a rare blood cancer called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Kris needed to start treatment right away to save her life, and her chemotherapy began on November 4, 2019. Once that chemo course was completed, she went into the hospital for a month to start induction chemotherapy in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow transplants are the only hope to cure this disease; without it, the disease always comes back and is fatal. Kris received her bone marrow transplant on March 17, 2020. Unfortunately, just a few short months later, the MDS returned, requiring more chemotherapy.
During the early days of her of illness, Kris found the energy to continue her work. During the summer of 2020, while she was quarantined due to COVID-19 and her weakened immune system, she painted to help lift her spirits. Kris painted her memories of Costa Rica where she and her husband of nine years spent their honeymoon and revisited in August 2019 with their daughter and other family members for a vacation of a lifetime with many happy memories. Undeterred, Kris spent this time—still on vacation through her memories—painting a series of images of swimming in the beaches of Costa Rica.
After the first series of chemotherapy, she started to complete work from her unfinished series of Endometrial Hyperplasia paintings. She wrote:
“On the bright side, in between chemo treatments, being home with a compromised immune system has given me more time to focus on my health, to spend time with my daughter (we've been playing a lot of Barbies), and to work on my art and my website. Oh, yeah, and I cut most of my hair off.
“I've been working on finishing up the Endometrial Hyperplasia series and preparing panels to bring with me into the hospital to paint.”
During the fall of 2020, Kris continued to receive grueling and aggressive chemotherapy to kill the cancer. She would spend weeks a time at the hospital in total isolation, completely away from the support of her family because of COVID-19 concerns. Many could not believe the resilience that Kris had to survive these long and exhausting stays in the hospital. She would bring her drawing and painting supplies. No matter how ill she felt, Kris managed to paint or sketch something nearly every day.
During these hospital stays, Kris made a new series of work, the Mandala Series. Of this series, she wrote:
“I made this series … to celebrate the joy of being alive, letting go of fear, and embracing love. It's been a rough and bumpy road over here. The MDS came back over the summer, I did chemo for 2 more months, then spent another 3+ weeks in the hospital in October for heavy chemo. They told me it didn't work and sent me up to NYC last Monday for testing for a clinical trial. It was not great. Then, last Thursday, the clinical trial doctor called and told me my bone marrow had NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE! I'm in REMISSION! It's a miracle. I am so completely thankful and trusting God to keep working things out for the best.”
Kris came home from the hospital that fall and dressed as Wonder Woman and took her daughter Sophia trick or treating. She was confident that she would conquer MDS.
At this point, the doctors wanted to give Kris’s new immune system a boost. The bone-marrow donor also donated lymphocytes, which were infused to help Kris’s immune system and to destroy any possible residual cancer cells. Unfortunately, Kris developed a life-threatening condition called Graft-versus-host Disease, which caused many complications. Kristin passed away on March 12, 2021, just 17 months after her diagnosis. She was 49 years young.
I can think of no better way to celebrate Kris’ life than honoring her artwork. She was a true artist, drawing and sketching up to the last days of her life. She made art to find the joy in living.