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Student Photos Evoke Hospice's Spirit

A group of Notre Dame College photography students spent much of the spring semester on a unique project capturing the joy and sorrow of seriously ill patients, and their families, as they received end-of-life care at Hospice of the Western Reserve. An exhibit of these photographs titled “A Place of Comfort & Care: Hospice of the Western Reserve“ will open with a reception at the gallery at Old Stone Church at 91 Public Square in Cleveland on July 1.

Photo by Ralph D'Alessio Led by Professor Malinda Smyth, four students in the College's advanced photography class immersed themselves in hospice care, shadowing patients who were approaching the end of their lives. Photographing them alone as well as with their families, their pets or their most precious possessions, the students - Sarah Nank, Aurelia Nuber, Ralph D'Alessio, and Dominic Schiavoni - celebrated the patients’ lives and helped preserve precious memories.

“For me, the purpose of the project has been to bring patients who are dying back to life,” Nank said. “We are helping them remember the parts of themselves that make their lives meaningful.”

The project was originally dreamed up by NDC Professor Tony Zupancic’s daughter, Grace, who completed an internship in Hospice’s communications department. She went on to write a project proposal and Hospice decided to approach NDC as its collaborative partner. Associate Professor of Art Rachel Morris joined Smyth in working to bring the idea to life.

“The four students involved embraced this project wholeheartedly and produced a mature body of work that reflects the compassion and care Hospice provides at the end of life,” Smyth said.

Photo by Aurelia NuberThe exhibit is open to the public and available to anyone interested in learning more about hospice and palliative care, as well as those interested in photography. The Notre Dame students and Professor Smyth will be available to discuss their experiences during an opening reception at the gallery at Old Stone Church from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 1. The gallery entrance is on Ontario Street, and the exhibit is open through Aug. 27, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during Sunday church service hours.

A smaller exhibit of these “Images of Hospice” will be held at the Arabica Coffee House at 818 E. 185th St. in Euclid from June 24 to July 16. Hospice staff will join the students and Professor Smyth to discuss the project from noon to 2 p.m. on June 24. Lunch will be available for $3 and all proceeds will benefit Helderberg Hospice, one of the earliest hospices established in South Africa.

The exhibit will also travel to Notre Dame College (Sept. 16 – Nov. 18) and the Hospice House atrium at 300 E. 185th St. in Cleveland (Dec. 1 – 31).

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. NDC students are available to talk about the project and share their experiences. To schedule an interview and for further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or bjohnston@ndc.edu.

Traveling Exhibit Schedule:

Photo by Dominic SchiavoniJune 24 – July 16
Arabica Coffee House
818 E. 185th St., Euclid

July 1 – Aug. 27
Old Stone Church Gallery
91 Public Square, Cleveland

Sept. 16 – Nov. 18
Notre Dame College
4545 College Rd., South Euclid

Dec. 1 – Dec. 31
Hospice House
300 E. 185th St., Cleveland

From left to right: Dominic Schiavoni, Aurelia Nuber, Ralph D'Alessio, Sarah Nank. Photo by Thom Sivo.

Meet the photographers: Dominic Schiavoni, Aurelia Nuber, Ralph D'Alessio and Sarah Nank.