Battling Cancer Through Art: Painter Showcases Her Journey at John Wayne Airport.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, artist Crystal Maes found comfort through painting vivid still-life images of lemons as a representation of the emotional and physical challenges she encountered while conquering the disease. Maes’ artwork is on display in the JWA Community Focus Space from September 17 through October 17, 2019, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Painter Crystal Maes brings inspiration through her artwork to those who may be affected by breast cancer and demonstrates that they too can overcome the disease,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett. “Guests traveling through John Wayne Airport are sure to be moved by her exhibition.”

Upon receiving her diagnosis, Maes delved into all she could learn about cancer through books, articles, and the Internet. Although the research was helpful, she felt moved by the blog stories written by women about their personal experiences with the disease, their treatment, and all its ups and downs. As an avid painter, this inspired Maes to tell her story by visualizing each step and painting it as honestly as she experienced it.

“The first image came to me so quickly (a bowl of lemons) that life just handed me, and since I was planning on a full recovery, my last painting would be a pitcher of pink lemonade,” said Maes. “Each painting contains a lemon or lemons that represent cancer, emotions, treatments, side effects, and hope for the future.”

As an oil painter, Maes prefers to paint still life images in a realistic style. Her subjects have included fruit, flowers, ribbons, quilts, fabrics, and glass that she has painted on various surfaces comprised of canvas, linen, wood, copper, and sheet metal. To learn more about her work, visit

Maes’ exhibit may be viewed on the Departure (upper) Level near security screening areas in Terminals A, B, C, (pre-security) and the Arrival (lower) Level adjacent to Baggage Carousels 1 and 4. Upcoming Community Focus Space artists include photographer Andrew Ko (October 18 – November 14) and painter Jan Mecklenburg (November 15 – December 17). For more information about JWA’s Art Programs, visit