Exhibit pays tribute to teen who lost fight with cancer

Jan. 26, 2014 @ 07:10 PM

Life is a beautiful thing.
A new exhibit at the Carrboro Branch Library in McDougle Middle School is a tribute to a young girl who lost her battle with cancer but will not soon be forgotten.
“Life is a Beautiful Thing: A Tribute to Sophie Steiner and Her Peers” is the first of four exhibits that concentrates on the youth. Sophie Steiner was 14 when she died but she lives on through her photographs and words.
Blog entries consisting of poems and personal essays Steiner wrote, along with 15 of her photographs handpicked by her parents will be on display through March 31 in the McDougle Schools media center.
The exhibit is presented by the Friends of the Carrboro Branch Library, the Orange County Arts Commission and also made possible by Strowd Roses Inc.
Sunflowers, tulips, a leaf by her sneakers at the bus stop, a Christmas ornament and a wine glass with its rim lined up with a diagonal horizon are some of the photos that give a sense of who Steiner was.
A reception was held Sunday and gave Steiner’s peers in the United Church of Christ of Chapel Hill’s youth group, her family and friends the chance to come together to celebrate her life and her legacy.
“It shows her magic through these pictures and her happiness and it makes me happy to be able to share that with people,” said Ruth Petersen, Steiner’s aunt. “She was a quiet studier of other people and very intuitive about the people and situations around her.”
Exhibit curator David Otto described Steiner as “a wise young lady. She was well beyond her years.”
“I never met Sophie in life. I only got to meet her through her photographs and blogs,” Otto said. “I feel now that I do know her, a little bit at least, and she was a remarkable young lady.”
Katie Cubrilovic is a lifelong friend of Steiner. They lived a block apart since they were 4 years old, Cubrilovic said, and would talk about everything.
“We went on a lot of walks and we loved to cook together,” Cubrilovic said. “She definitely noticed all the little details and she loved photography.”
Cubrilovic and several peers from UCC contributed photo montages to the exhibit, displaying why life is beautiful.
“Life is beautiful because it is filled with little imperfections,” said Cubrilovic’s description with her montage. “Because the possibilities are endless and you are free to be who you want to be. Because of laughter, smiles and memories that make every day special in its own way.”
Steiner’s blog entries and poems are bound and on display with the rest of the exhibit. Inside are memories from Steiner’s sister, Annabel and Elsa, including a conversation Steiner had with Elsa a few weeks before she passed away.
“You need to do big things for both of us,” Steiner said. “You can’t sit in a cubicle pretending to do big things. When you are 90 years old, you should have lived a big life for both of us. I will be a part of it from heaven.”
Her sisters described her as someone who said what was on her mind and able to honestly look at her own life. They also said that people were drawn to their sister’s quirkiness.
Blog entries date back to 2011 and includes “Live to Laugh,” “When You’re Gone,” “Idea About Life,” “Sisterly Love,” and “What My Parents Taught Me.”
Also remembered for her kind heart and generous nature, Elsa and Annabel said that Sophie will live on through them.
“For the rest of our lives when we ask a friend about their day or find the perfect gift for someone or are honestly able to reflect on our own lives, that is Sophie acting through us,” they said. “When each of us makes something out of our lives and does big, meaningful things, that is Sophie’s legacy and we will know that she is smiling.”