JULIAN, 1991-92
Acrylic / Mixed Media on Paper

My six-year-old nephew Scotty drew a picture of Bagwan, an evil spirit. Somehow all that I’ve gone through—cancer, chemotherapy, almost dying—none of that was resolved in me. I needed a vehicle to help me understand what was going on inside of me.

In Julian, the artist narrates the moving story of a young boy possessed by an evil spirit. Inspired by a drawing his nephew made during a family visit in 1991, Aulerich-Sugai returned to San Francisco with the idea to create an illustrated story about the experience of childhood cancer. One day, the evil spirit floats into town and makes Julian sick with cancer. As he grows sicker, angels visit his hospital bed, whispering into his ear throughout the night, helping him to find acceptance for the disease. Eventually, Julian passes away and is carried into the night sky by the spirits. The series includes sixteen panels (35 x 44 inches each) with accompanying text.

“The angels wrapped their wings around his glow and helped him take his place high amongst the other heavenly bodies.” (from Julian)