It’s a virtual art show about cancer! As told by her grieving son Alex, this interactive exhibit brings to life moments from Joyce Mallonee's cancer journey through video clips and highlights the coping mechanisms she employed to retain her sense of self in a darkly humorous fashion.
Mission StatementCancer literally surrounds us yet is rarely discussed openly. Deconstruction aims to break down barriers preventing survivors, loved ones, and society-at-large from frankly talking about the disease. We are cancer survivors and loved ones harnessing the power of art and humor to soothe and connect.
About The Project
Joyce Mallonee lived with breast cancer for twenty-five years. During fourteen of those years, Stage IV cancer metastasized to her bones, liver, and lungs. She endured continuous cycles of medications, treatments and surgeries that resulted in a body part removed, replaced, or irrevocably altered. Despite the decades-long ordeal, Joyce’s spirit and sense of self remained intact.
To cope with these physical and psychological incursions, Joyce imagined herself laid out on a canvas with all of her alterations visible: artificial hips, dual mastectomies, the rare vertebroplasty that pumped bone cement into her spine. Over time, this mental exercise evolved into a real-life conceptual art installation she would create to share her experience of her body’s deconstruction.
As her cancer waged its variable war, Joyce at times felt alienated from her friends and family - most of whom acknowledged her disease abstractly but almost never in frank conversation. Joyce knew that people’s perceptions of cancer as medical fact rather than emotional reality arose from fears of mortality. She believed art could empower cancer survivors to tell their stories through creative expression and open a portal to difficult but crucial conversations with loved ones about cancer, death, and loss.
Despite having studied art in college, Joyce wasn’t confident in her artistic ability or public interest in seeing an art show about cancer. It was only after mentioning Deconstruction to her son Alex that her musings became a real activity. Flying forward in the face of Joyce’s doubt and Alex’s until-then refusal to confront his feelings about the disease, mother and son decided to pursue the concept.
Over the last two years of Joyce’s life, the mother-son team collaborated with seven artists to conceptualize eight pieces of art telling the story of cancer’s impact on her body and mind. Though Joyce’s quarter-of-a-century living with cancer - beginning in the mid-90’s through 2020 - forms the narrative’s centerpiece, Deconstruction explores her entire personal history - including her formative pre-cancer years growing up in San Francisco.
But as 2020 wore on, Joyce and Alex were forced to grapple with tough realities regarding the project. As the COVID-19 virus spread, the decision was made to expand the exhibit and offer a virtual art show to those who would be unable to attend physically - in many cases due to their own battles with cancer. But no difficulty was more perilous or pressing to consider than Joyce’s decision to stop medical treatment in June of 2020, prior to the exhibition’s opening. Four months later, on October 4th, 2020, Joyce Mallonee passed away.
Alex - with the help of the artists, Joyce’s friends and his family - is determined to make Joyce’s vision a reality despite losing her. In January 2021, Deconstruction Stage I: The Physical Art Show debuted at the Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Lafayette, CA. As Joyce’s indelible spirit and sense of humor burst forth from each piece of art, the exhibit’s five-day run closed on what would have been Joyce’s 70th birthday. Knowing the art show and the process of producing it offers an example of how to engage with loved ones and families going through similar experiences, Alex is creating a virtual version of the Deconstruction exhibit.
Deconstruction Stage II: The Virtual Art Show is a digital art experience premiering in January 2022, on Joyce’s birthday and the one-year anniversary of the physical art show. The virtual gallery reimagines the exhibit as an immersive digital timeline tracing Joyce’s cancer journey through eight pieces of artwork. Patrons can navigate this timeline (covering from 1995-2020) and explore each piece of art through short video clips that explain the deeper meaning and artistic process behind them. These videos feature footage of the art captured during the physical exhibition paired with archival footage and photos from Joyce’s life. Alex is working with a new team of contributing artists to bring a polished, immersive virtual exhibit to fruition. This is where you come in.
We are raising $15,000 to build out the digital exhibit and interactive experience with UI/UX design and complete the video clips with original animations, stop-motion work, sound design, original musical composition, and color correction. We’ve got a whole new team of contributing artists ready to help us complete the vision - including stop motion animator Lizzy Hogenson, animator Ashley Ortega, and composer Anton Patzner. The premiere of the exhibit will be accompanied by a Zoom party that will serve as celebration of Joyce on her birthday, a Q&A session with Alex and the contributing artists, and discussions around the next phase of the project: Deconstruction Stage III: The Documentary. Eventually Alex aims to tour this film and the artwork in a series of community screenings with cancer survivors and their loved ones in Deconstruction Stage IV.
With art and creativity serving as a portal to engagement around life with cancer, their mother-son journey is destined to become a conversation - an enlightened and connective path to follow through joy and life that leads for all of us (inevitably) to death.
You can join the movement to destigmatize conversations about cancer by sharing our campaign on social media! Here's some sample text that you can share and customize:
Facebook/Instagram: If you are or know a cancer survivor, there’s a new art show just for you! Deconstruction - A Virtual Art Show is a 4-part multimedia art project about one woman’s 25-year cancer journey. The team is hard at work on a virtual art show for more survivors to experience healing and dialogue through art and humor. Check out their Seed&Spark page to learn more about how you can be a part of its creation! https://seedandspark.com/fund/deconstruction
Twitter: If you are or know a #cancersurvivor, check out @decoartdoc about one woman’s 25-yr cancer journey. The team is making a #virtualartshow to promote #cancerawareness. Check out their @seedandspark campaign taking place this #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth! https://seedandspark.com/fund/deconstruction
Your donation is tax-deductible! Deconstruction is a fiscally sponsored project of the International Documentary Association (IDA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions in support of Deconstruction are payable to IDA and are tax-deductible, less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law. The value of goods and services offered is noted under each donation level. If you would like to deduct the entire donation decline the reward at checkout.
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About This Team
Joyce Mallonee (1955 - 2020) was born and raised in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point area of San Francisco, the eldest of three children in a very Italian family. She attended Lone Mountain college in the early 1970’s where she studied art and art history. Following college, Joyce held a series of odd jobs before settling into a career in the gourmet food industry. After years of working for companies such as Viking Foods and Andronico’s Markets, Joyce decided to start her own business, Mallonee and Associates, where she would serve as creative director and owner.
This was just a few years after her first breast cancer diagnosis in 1995. Her cancer would recur in the early 2000’s and she received a Stage IV diagnosis in 2007. Due to the slow growing nature of her particular cancer, Joyce and her medical team were able to effectively contain the disease for years and allow her to live a long and prosperous life, where cancer came up, but wasn’t the dominant force in her life. That dominant force was in fact her family. Joyce always maintained a close relationship with her sister Janet and brother David. She married Donal Mallonee in 1983 and the pair have two children, Alexander Mallonee and Carson Kljavin, whom she doted on. In her final years, the idea for an art project based on her cancer experiences came to her, which she began developing further with the help of her son. Although Joyce didn’t live to see the completed Deconstruction show, her presence (and sense of humour) are bursting forth from each piece.
Alex Mallonee was born (at the insistence of his mother) in San Francisco, technically making him a third generation San Franciscian. Despite this factoid, Alex grew up in the suburban East Bay town of Lafayette, where he developed an interest in filmmaking from an early age. This creative side was encouraged by his mother throughout his formative years and set Alex on path through film school at the University of Santa Cruz to a career as a freelance director and producer. He’s produced two feature films, the music documentary Do U Want It? and the narrative drama Bring Me an Avocado. With Deconstruction, Alex saw an opportunity to creatively support his mother the way she had always done for him as well as addressing his own anxieties around healthcare. With her passing, the project has taken on new responsibilities, effectively becoming her legacy.
Bianca Beyrouti joined the team as a producer in June 2019. Bianca is a seasoned Bay Area-based filmmaker whose skills in producing both documentary and narrative film will inform Deconstruction’s production, funding, and impact goals. She is a core member of the production team at ITVS where she is the associate producer of the award-winning documentary series Independent Lens. She is also the lead producer of the local indie feature Bring Me an Avocado, winner of the 2019 Cinequest Audience Award. She has screened for numerous film festivals and is an active member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia.
- Annie Dennison - "Off With Her Tits!"
- Genevieve Constance Jones - "The Pill Dress"
- Melanie Leandro - "Through the Mouth"
- Carson Kljavin - "Deconstruction"
- Kevin Figueroa - "Indolent Cancer"
- Cody Blocker - "Oncologists: The Trading Cards"
- Melissa Holowitz - "Main Box Office"
Virtual Contributing Artists:
- Gavin V. Murray (Cinematographer)
- Josh Freund (Cinematographer)
- Joe Garrity (Editor)
- Erik Parker (Interactive Producer)
- Lizzy Hogenson (Stop-Motion Animator)
- Ashley Ortega (Digital Animator)
- Kingsley Willis (VFX Artist)
- Anton Patzner (Composer)