Category Archives: Cancer Research

Interview with Sue Levin, Co-Chair of ACE 2012

Q1: The American Craft Exposition is a great show that features hand-crafted, made-in-America crafts. What do you consider your favorite medium and why?

I love art and was an art history minor as an undergraduate. At ACE we focus on art that is original, one-of-a-kind, not mass produced and of the quality that we see in ACE year after year. My personal favorite is glass. I love sunlight and I am fascinated with the way glass art reflects light and the prism it creates.  Glass art continuously changes as the light changes.

Q2: It’s no secret that ACE benefits the NorthShore University HealthSystem community as ACE raises funds for ovarian cancer research. Does ACE’s impact spread farther than just the hospital community?

Absolutely. Our funding goal, Dr. Rodriguez’s pioneering ovarian cancer research, will benefit women on an international level. With Dr. Rodriguez’s research of developing an effective prevention through oral contraceptives, there may be a day where ovarian cancer is no longer the “silent killer.” This is a hideous disease that is often not diagnosed until it is too late. This could be our mothers, our sisters, our friends or our daughters.

By supporting ACE, craft lovers are supporting the phenomenal research of Dr. Rodriguez. Already his clinical trials are showing us that individuals taking the oral contraceptive pills containing potent progestins for as little as 18 months lowered their ovarian cancer risk by 60 to 70 percent.


Q3: You recently travelled to art shows on the East coast. What are the noticeable differences you found between ACE and the other shows and how is ACE different?
Both the 35th Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore are much bigger shows than ours. The venues are convention centers. The show in Philadelphia presented 195 artists and the show in Baltimore hosted about 900 artists including wholesale and retail categories, while ACE has 160 artists.

Another huge difference between The Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show seemed to have more of a focus on the international craft art community, while ACE is more focused on American-made crafts.

The main thing that separates ACE from the other craft show that ACE raises monies for ovarian cancer research. So, not only do you get to see world-class crafts at ACE, but you’re also supporting huge breakthroughs in ovarian cancer research. That’s the main difference between these art shows.

Q4: ACE supports more than just ovarian cancer research – ACE supports individual artists making a real livable wage as well as the art community itself, which has its own hard times. How does ACE support the art community and what would communities look like if the arts disappeared?

We have had many of our artists tell us that ACE kick started their career.  At the other shows I have visited, they tell me how great we are to our artists, how volunteers agree to host artists as house guests , and how we provide meals for them at the show. This helps maximize the artists’ bottom line and enable them to continue and thrive as artists and build their following.

I would dread a world without art. Art reflects the history of the times. When we look at art from the Renaissance, we see a rebirth in religious art, which was just after the time of the plague killing thousands across Europe. Centuries from now, art historians will look at the art being made right now and trace it to life in the early twenty first century.


What Every Woman Should Know About Ovarian Cancer

The American Craft Exposition truly believes in each of the causes it sponsors. It is for these reasons that  we would like to share with you some information about ovarian cancer and the research that is being funded through ACE 2011.


Think you don’t have to worry about ovarian cancer until after menopause? Think again.  Even though the majority of women who suffer from ovarian cancer are either middle aged or senior citizens, there are many things you can do now to prevent ovarian cancer.  According to Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez of Northshore Healthsystem, taking an oral contraceptive for three (3) consecutive years during reproductive lifetime can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer by up to 50%.  Also, taking vitamin D and bathing in the sun throughout your lifetime might also do you some good, according to recent studies.

Overview of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynecologic cancer and takes the lives of about 15,000 women each year. What truly makes this cancer so fatal is  the difficulty in detection– hence the nickname—the silent killer. Consider some of the symptoms: abdominal pressure, bloating, pelvic pain, indigestion, constipation, loss of appetite, increased girth (weight), and low back pain.  Because of these ambiguous symptoms, doctors can’t always diagnose ovarian cancer until it is too late—usually in advanced stages, where the cancer has spread to other organs.

Thus, women who are at risk—specifically those residing in the northern hemisphere, have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, or have had history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer should seek genetic counseling (offered at Northshore Healthsystem) and speak with gynecologic oncologists.

Quick Facts:

  • No vaccine or cure
  • Ashkenazi Jewish Heritages have increased risk/prevalence
  • Current treatment methods are ineffective for platinum resistant patients
  • Currently there are no tests for ovarian cancer, but having a BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes can increase risk
  • Research studies hint at both a genetic link and an inflammatory link

Studies on Vitamin D and Why You Should “Bask in the Sun” (Sparingly)

While many women know about the dangers of developing skin cancer with prolonged sun exposure, what many may not know is that there is a link between decreased sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency and consequently, ovarian cancer risk.   Researchers believe that the reason geographical location is a factor is vitamin D’s role in cell growth regulation.

Consider these images that Dr. Rodriguez shared with Niles North High School during his lecture last September.

Amount of Sunlight

Ovarian Cancer Mortality

In the northern part of US, the areas with less sun exposure have an increased ovarian cancer mortality.  Furthermore, on a more global scale, countries in the northern Hemisphere (Norway, US, Canada) have an increased ovarian cancer incidence, even when age-adjusted compared to countries near the equator (like India or Gambia).

The Pill

From what we know now, the birth control pill protects against more than unplanned pregnancies.  According to several studies, 3 years of using a progesterone based birth control pill can lower your risk of ovarian cancer by 50%.

During every menses and ovulation, the ovarian epithelium is ruptured. Scientists believe that the ruptures allow for an increased risk of developing abnormalities in the epithelium. (90% of ovarian cancer is epithelial). This theory is also known as the laying-hen model or the incessant ovulation hypothesis.

A Penultimate Note

Lisa Schneider, a licensed counselor for cancer support at the Cancer Support Center, said, “it is never too late to eat well, do gentle exercise, teach the mind to calm and stay in the present and release pent up emotions and old patterns that no longer serve you”.

Northshore Health System & the Auxiliary

Currently, the Auxilary at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals are working with ACE to fundraise for Dr. Rodriguez research with progesterone and vitamin D as well as initiating a clinical trial program that focuses on risk assessment and prevention.

North Shore residents and especially women who are at risk due to family history or ethnicity should consider visiting a gynecologic oncologist or a genetic counselor. The Northshore Healthsystem provides a wide array of professionals at your disposal and is also home to the Kellogg Cancer Center.

A bibliography for this article is available upon request.




ACE Committee Kick-Off March 2nd, 2011

Committee Members admiring the work of Aaron Macsai.

The weather outside may have been bleak, but it did not stop the women of the ACE committee from enjoying the kick-off party inside the lovely Clarke House, home to the Evanston Art Center. There were plenty of refreshments for everyone, and the gallery exhibition couldn’t have been more fitting.The physio|tasma|gorical exhibition curated by Susan Sensemann perfectly blended art with human anatomy and science. But beyond the atmosphere was the mood of the attendees. Board officio, Auxiliary members, ACE committee chairs, Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez, and Aaron Macsi were all on hand to share in the excitement for ACE 2011.

ACE Committee Chairs (Marge Gambow & Melissa David) and myself.

Marge Gambow and Melissa David , co-chairs of ACE 2011, introduced and welcomed everyone. They shared new information which generated much discussion such as: new preview party details, the online auction coming back and getting youth involved in this year’s show.

Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez, researcher and gynecologic oncologist, whose work on ovarian cancer will be the primary funding goal for ACE and the Evanston Hospital Auxiliary this year , came to the Kick Off Party to thank ACE.

But most interesting were Dr. Rodriguez’s comments as he introduced himself to the committee. “There are three sources of funding for our research—clinical funds, NIH grants,and philanthropic funds, the latter which is most pivotal in our search for preventing ovarian cancer.” As a huge fan of his research, I was delighted to hear that he believes “from what we know now, we think we can prevent up to 90% of ovarian cancer,” and that “funding from ACE will contribute to helping fund research to figure out how to exploit the mechanism and customize treatment in our clinical program.” He also said that “from what we know, the mechanism clears genetically damaged cells—something that was validated in human trials.” Thus, it is obvious that the beneficiary is currently working on top tier, significant research.

Furthermore, a short talk with Aaron Macsai shed much light on the creative brilliance and mastery that is a common denominator of ACE artists. His inspiration originated from his jewelry teacher (daughter of the late Enrico Fermi) at the University of Chicago Lab School. Since then he has mastered the art of texture and jewelry making. There is a common theme among his work—gold, copper, and a myriad of colored gemstones reminiscent of Egyptian art. When asked about the inspiration of his work, he credits the Oriental Institute (located at the University of Chicago). Clearly, he is a master who is very passionate about his work. It is evident from our conversation that he is obsessed with perfection, texture, and form. Macsai was educated at the California Institute of Art and Southern Illinois University.

The Kick-Off succeeded in getting everyone excited and prepared to work on ACE 2011.

11 Days Until the Show!

Stunning jewelry.

Head-turning fabric art.

Beautiful, hand-made furniture, and so much more. Are you ready for ACE 2010?

In less than two weeks, the doors at Northwestern University’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion will open onto one of the most famous fine-crafts expositions held in the United States. Since its inception in 1985, ACE and its founders have been devoted to excellence–and to supporting the tradition of fine craft. This year’s show will feature 160 artists and their work in a variety of media, including basketry, ceramics, fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, paper and wood. Doors will open at 10 a.m. on Friday, August 27, and close at 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 29. During these three days, you’ll have an opportunity to view and purchase unique fine crafts. You’ll also be able to attend demonstrations by several top artists, and a fashion show featuring clothing made by several of the show’s artists.

If you’ve never attended this spectacular annual event, why not do so this year? All funds raised support breast-cancer and ovarian-cancer research at NorthShore University Health System. Make it an ACE weekend, and create a new tradition. You’ll support a noble cause while enjoying a fabulous shopping opportunity. What could be more fun?

Reserve Your Tickets for the ACE Preview Party Today!

Looking for a magic moment that’s also tax-deductible? Then book your calendar for the evening of Thursday, August 26. The American Craft Exhibition Preview Party promises a beautiful setting, cocktails, exquisite hors d’oeuvres and desserts,  and, most importantly, a chance to see and shop the show before it opens the following day.

For even more exclusive access, you’ll want to attend the Joan Kowing McGregor Collectors’ Hour (5:30-6:30 p.m.).  This event memorializes a dedicated Auxiliary member who died of  cancer. Tickets for the Collectors’ Hour are $150 each.  Tickets for the Preview Party (6:30-9:00 p.m.) are $100 each, and include admission to the show each day. Amounts in excess of $40 per person are considered a charitable contribution, and all funds from both events will benefit breast- and ovarian-cancer research at Northshore University Health System.

Don’t miss this memorable evening, to be held at Northwestern University’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 North Campus Drive, Evanston.  To reserve your tickets, call the Auxiliary office at 847-570-5095, or email Jenny Bruffey at

ACE is the place!

ACE begins today!!!

After our preview party tonight, the artists, ACE staffers and volunteers are thrilled to kick off the 25th Annual American Craft Exposition Friday at Northwestern University’s Henry Crown Pavilion in Evanston, Illinois.

We’ve gotten great press leading up to the event, including this most recent plug from the Northwest Herald’s Kurt Begalka:

This juried indoor exposition of museum-quality items features one-of-a-kind baskets, ceramics, fiber decorative, fiber wearable, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media and wood crafts. Just 150 artists are gleaned from 1,000 applications each year. Exhibitors include whimsical whirligig aficionado James Eaton of Sleepy Hollow; metalsmiths Jack and Alice McLean of Johnsburg and fiber artist Chris Roberts-Antieau of Manchester, Mich. I promise, you are in for a treat.

To read more, click here.

We hope to see you at ACE this weekend! Tickets are $15 for adults at the door, $5 for children younger than 10. All proceeds benefit breast and ovarian cancer research.

P.S. ACE’s hours:

Friday, Aug. 28: 10am-8pm

Saturday, Aug. 29: 10am-6pm

Sunday, Aug. 30: 11am-5pm

ACE is located at The Henry Crown Sports Pavillion at Northwestern University, 2311 N. Campus Drive, Evanston, Illlinois.

ACE House Walk in the Pioneer Press

ACE gets a shout out in the Pioneer Press (a suburban Chicago newspaper franchise).

Crafty house walk

The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals will hold Living with Craft House Walk, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the American Craft Exposition, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on July 15 with check-in beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Sawbridge Studios, 1015 Tower Court in Winnetka.The four homes featured integrate works of art from some of the country’s finest craftsmen who have participated as American Craft Exposition artists. The cost is $30 in advance and $40 at the door and ticket holders receive a copy of the book These Hands Tell a Story: 25 Years of Handcrafted Art. Proceeds support breast and ovarian cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem. For more information, call 847 570-5095 or visit