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Sunday, November 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Rediscovering art proves key when cancer, crisis hit

Hope underlies visual diary

Artist Jan Foland poses for a photo with her art on June 6 at her home. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Artist Jan Foland poses for a photo with her art on June 6 at her home. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Jennifer Larue

Jan Foland hangs out on street corners in a bad part of town with drug dealers and addicts, maybe a few prostitutes, and some gang members. Foland’s motivation is simply to soften hearts and make room for God; we can all agree – even if you’re not a believer – there are a lot of hearts that need softening.

“What it’s really all about is ‘we’ not ‘me,’ “ Foland said. “Together, we can find salvation, share our stories, and realize that hope is alive and well.”

Foland’s hope is illustrated in hundreds of drawings that serve as a sort of visual diary. She has always drawn but it began in earnest in the early 1990s as she was searching for her daughter. Her search brought her face-to-face with lost souls and her street ministries began. She founded Off Broadway Lighthouses of Hope, which serves the West Central area of Spokane. Subsequent ministries include Hunger No More, God’s Gang and Still Waters Creations.

In one of her many journal entries, she explained, “The loss of loved ones and retirement brought storms into my life. It was through this deep valley of loss, separation and terminal pancreatic cancer (2005) that I found the way through the fear and the pain by spending time each morning sketching, journaling, and drawing from the lessons learned.”

She survived her “90 days to live” diagnosis and reconciled with her daughter. Now, with boxes of drawings and more than 70 full journals, Foland shares her experiences with others through a line of prints and greeting cards called the Father’s LoveLine. Proceeds of sales go to help support her many outreach programs and the Therese Marszalek Ministries.

Foland, 66, was born and raised in Hillyard. She graduated from Rogers High School where she excelled in art. Told that girls couldn’t be graphic artists, she went on to Eastern Washington University and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, science and art. She received a master’s degree from Whitworth. She retired from teaching in 2005.

“Creating art helped me to heal as I was growing,” Foland said. “Art has always been a part of me and my goal has always been to enable others to find a way to create.” She calls her work “Art to Heal the Heart” and she suggests that others “pick up a pen, pencil or art tool and find a quiet place to draw and reflect, and in time,God will break through the darkness, and you will be found ‘well’ in your walk so you can help others drowning in the sea of broken dreams.”

Foland hopes that her art and accompanying stories will help others heal and find peace in the eye of their storm. Her drawings, reflecting all that is good and right in the world including children, lambs and angels, serve as a sort of lighthouse, a safe harbor, and reminders of hope.

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