‘A good bookend’: Fighting cancer, Montevallo artist reflects on her artwork being featured on CBS Sunday Morning

Local News

Courtesy: Robin Nance Metz

Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Robin Nance Metz’ children would always joke that “her entire goal in life” was to get a sun featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

“Well, you’re right,” she’d say. “I think that would be wonderful.”

Metz, an artist from Montevallo, accomplished that goal for the first time in May 2020 and has since accomplished it six more times.

CBS Sunday Morning, a news program that has been on air since the 1970s, is known in part for its sun logo and the sun artwork featured throughout the show.

After losing two of her children and her father, being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and currently battling stage four pancreatic cancer, Metz makes it a point to remain optimistic and refuses to focus on the lows of life, one of the reasons she identifies with the stories told on CBS Sunday Morning.

“They have a lot of hope in their stories. They talk about, you know, somebody facing an adversity and just suckin’ it up and moving on. You know, their stories and the people that they’re talking about don’t focus on the lousy stuff.”

About two years ago, Robin saw an interview on the show explaining the process of how suns are selected. Jessica Frank, an associate director and resident “Sun Queen” at CBS Sunday Morning handpicks the artwork that appears on the show every week. Metz said Frank seemed very approachable, prompting her to write down her email address.

Metz kept the address for about a year before deciding to send in some of her artwork. She knew she would get no credit or financial compensation, but she didn’t care.

Back in March 2020, I was feeling pretty lousy, sitting around a lot, and I just thought, well, you know what, I think I’m going to send some stuff to that woman at CBS Sunday Morning, and so I did,” Metz said. “I sent a painting and a couple of pictures of some [ceramic] platters I had done that had sun’s on them.”

About a week later, she was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

“I made the mistake of reading a little bit about pancreatic cancer and found out that most people that are diagnosed with it, the majority of them, are gone before the year,” she said. “A lot of them are gone in a matter of months.

After spending 15 days in the hospital and undergoing a surgery that she said she barely survived, Metz was released in mid-April. She credits FaceTime calls and creating art with supplies brought in by her husband for getting her through the difficult stay.

After a short time of being home, Metz finally received some good news. She was notified by the Sun Queen that her painting was going to be featured after an interview on the Mother’s Day edition of CBS Sunday Morning.

“I was so excited and I thought, this is pretty cool that I will end my life with this,” she said. “This is a good bookend.”

Metz has been living with cancer for over a year now and has been able to see six more of her pieces featured on the show. The most recent sun aired on Oct. 31.

Art isn’t just a hobby for Metz, though. It runs in her family. Growing up seeing her parents work as illustrators and painters solidified her future career at an early age.

“Because my parents were artists, I kind of thought that’s what you did, you just did what your parents did. I had three siblings that did not do what my parents did, and I thought they were weird,” laughed Metz.

Courtesy: Robin Nance Metz

Metz has lived in the Southeast her whole life. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee, then migrated through different states as she grew, eventually graduating from Homewood High School.

Robin then studied art at the University of Montevallo and Auburn University. During this time, she met her husband of ten years, Ted, who is also a sculptor.

After graduation, she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator in the commercial realm for 20 years, before settling in Montevallo.

But Robin’s life was more than met the surface.

“I’ve had a lot of practice loving someone dearly and having to say goodbye,” wrote Metz in an online post.

Georgia
Courtesy: Robin Nance Metz

Robin lost her first daughter, Greta, shortly after she was born. Five years later, she welcomed a second daughter, Sarah into the world.

Three years after that, Georgia, her third daughter, was born. But years later, at only 17, Georgia died in a car accident.

Robin also lost her father, her first art teacher, to a battle with Alzheimer’s in 2013.

That is when Metz said she realized hearts don’t actually break.

“They bend, they twist and they open to let in more love,” she wrote. “The more love they let in, the more love they have to share.”

Robin once again used her art to get her — and others — through the tough times.

Courtesy: Robin Nance Metz

Still grieving, Robin used her talent to help others cope by starting “A Place at the Table” in 2019.

An art class where students could use clay to represent their loved one, “A Place at the Table” allowed participants to create an object that could serve as a small remembrance of the person they’d lost.

Metz’ class was interrupted in 2020 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Robin Metz said her mom is just one of the many reasons she wants to stick around for a little while longer.

“My mom, gosh, I love my mom. She’s one of my best friends,” she said. “She’s another reason I’m sticking around. I don’t want her to deal with what I had to deal with. I mean, having to say goodbye to your kid sucks.”

She also wants to stick around for her daughter and husband.

“Between [Sarah] and my husband, they have kept me focused on the right things, and sometimes the focus is on them, which they don’t ask for that, but that’s what helps me stay grounded, you know?”

She said while her situation can be irritating, she strives to remain optimistic, as this is still the happiest she’s ever been in her adult life.

“I actually yelled at my husband,” she said. “I said something like, ‘It’s not easy to be happy all the time!’ But then I realized it is actually pretty easy to be happy all the time.”

A brave and hopeful Robin receives chemotherapy roughly every two weeks. She keeps an online journal documenting her cancer journey, to help not just herself, but others, too.

“The rain and clouds are necessary for those amazing things to bloom,” she wrote.

Even though she has now retired from the commercial art world, Robin has not retired as an artist.

She still paints, illustrates and does clay work. She said the main goal of her artwork is to bring joy to the world.

“As an artist, you kind of never retire,” she said. “You just keep workin’ until you croak.”

Her artwork can be found in the “Joy Gallery” at Homewood Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or virtually here, from Nov. 7 to Dec. 26.

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