Local Art in the Spotlight


Steven & Cheryl Ward


BJC HealthCare


Shiloh, Illinois

original artwork at cancer center

About the Artwork

Siteman Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital Shiloh features a one-of-a-kind artwork sculpture with unique ties to the local community. The featured piece is made from cattail reeds harvested from northern Illinois wetlands by artists Steven and Cheryl Ward.

The artwork is constructed over an extensive period of time, as each reed must be completely dried out before being painted the following season. Once the reeds are dry, each one is hand-painted and bound together to create individual works of art.

While the amount of time and patience put into the art may go unnoticed by some, the final result makes it worth the wait, much like the joy of achieving remission following extensive cancer treatment. The reeds can demonstrate the importance of individuals finding strength in a group, similar to a patient finding comfort in connecting with people undergoing comparable hardships. The completed art piece symbolizes the power and strength of a community coming together and how having faith in a timely process can create positive lasting results.

About the Artists

Long-time Illinois residents Steven and Cheryl Ward harvest countless cattail reeds from the northern Illinois wetlands to create prairie grass art. The reeds are carefully hand painted to ensure each art piece is truly one-of-a-kind. The artists explain that cattail leaves are an excellent surface for painting because they are straight and consistent in size but still maintain unique characteristics and can easily be arranged into a single work of art.

To learn more about their artistic journey, visit their website Ward Art Studio.