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Westwood Art Show Honors Memory Of Cancer Victim Daughter

Heidi Hartung Rispoli, of Saddle River, with the Warrior Pole in Josephine's Garden.
Heidi Hartung Rispoli, of Saddle River, with the Warrior Pole in Josephine's Garden. Photo Credit: Heidi Hartung Rispoli
Former Saddle River resident, Josephine Rispoli, who died of a rare form of brain cancer when she was 7.
Former Saddle River resident, Josephine Rispoli, who died of a rare form of brain cancer when she was 7. Photo Credit: Heidi Hartung Rispoli
The gold-themed Westwood storefront is raising awareness for pediatric cancer.
The gold-themed Westwood storefront is raising awareness for pediatric cancer. Photo Credit: Heidi Hartung Rispoli
"Josephine's Journey," by Saddle River resident Heidi Hartung Rispoli, is on view at 37 Westwood Ave., in Westwood.
"Josephine's Journey," by Saddle River resident Heidi Hartung Rispoli, is on view at 37 Westwood Ave., in Westwood. Photo Credit: Heidi Hartung Rispoli

WESTWOOD, N.J. — The memory of 7-year-old Josephine Rispoli lives on in a Westwood storefront that her mother has transformed into her 3rd annual art show, "Josephine's Journey."

Heidi Hartung Rispoli of Saddle River took creative control of her death, caused by a rare form of brain cancer, to raise awareness toward pediatric cancer through her artwork at 37 Westwood Ave. The exhibit runs through Sat., Oct. 3 in the space donated by Bruce Meisel of First Westwood Realty.

“It’s like my form of guerrilla marketing,” Rispoli said.The exhibit includes 13 photographs documenting Josephine’s 13-month journey, as well as a wall sculpture and Josephine’s last piece of artwork, which she made on a pillow case — and is now the center of a quilt hanging in the exhibit.

“Innocence, Suffering and Peace,” a three-photograph series, captures Josephine in the same position soon after her 2010 diagnosis, the day she died and in her coffin.

The large photographs are accompanied by three corresponding dresses — some sewn by Rispoli — to reflect the garments Josephine is wearing in each piece.

“When your child dies, you don’t want your kid to be forgotten,” said Rispoli, who in 2012 transformed a courtyard on the fifth floor of Hackensack University Medical Center into “Josephine’s Garden.”

A cocktail party to benefit Josephine's Garden Fund, will be on Wed., Oct. 14, at the Designer Showhouse of New Jersey at HUMC.

“Josephine wasn’t born sick - none of these kids were born sick,” Rispoli said. “Our kids were basically stolen from us.”

Rispoli's exhibit features a “Wall of Warriors” — photographs of pediatric cancer patients in the community who have since passed on.

“It’s about awareness,” she said. “I hope that by touching people’s hearts they’ll have a chance to give.”

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