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Cancer Diagnosis Spurs Benefit Auction for Local Artist Erin Cunningham

At the Visual Arts Collective on Dec. 20


For at least the past decade, Erin Cunningham has been a leading member of the Boise arts community—as an artist, with dozens of gallery appearances; as an adjunct art instructor at Boise State University and College of Western Idaho; and as a Boise Weekly contributor, with a mix of covers and article illustrations stretching back to 2005.

Now she's in need, and her colleagues, students and friends are stepping up.

Cunningham was diagnosed this summer with Myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood cancer that can worsen to Leukemia. To treat the disease, she has been awaiting a stem cell transplant at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance—a wait that will be over on Thursday, Dec. 17, when she's set to receive a treatment of stem cells. Her road to recovery will be far from finished, however, which is why a benefit has been scheduled in her honor 2-8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20 at the Visual Arts Collective.

According to Meshel Ledet, who is organizing the event, about 60 local artists and retailers have already donated works and items for auction at the event, which will feature music from Phantahex, Hillfolk Noir, Dark Swallows and Sick Wish.

Because her immune system will be compromised following the transplant, Cunningham will not be able to work for up to a year, and she'll need to limit her exposure to others in order to avoid illness.

"This type of restriction would be financially devastating to anyone," Ledet wrote in email. "We need to raise enough money for her to be able to just focus on her health, in lieu of worrying about finances."

A GoFundMe campaign established for Cunningham has raised nearly $11,500 of its $30,000 goal.

"I feel so incredibly grateful that we can all come together and lift Erin in this way," Ledet wrote. "She's a very special human."