The Bodice Project (TBP) is an uplifting and sensitive art exhibit that focuses on creating connections between artists and individuals who have endured breast cancer. Created in 2014 by a group of artists who work in and around Shepherdstown (WV), the exhibit began with nine sculptures in plaster gauze, wood, steel, yarn, clay, and stone.
Many of the sculptures were created by wrapping the torsos of women and men who have undergone mastectomies, double mastectomies, or reconstructive surgery. Over the past two years, more artists have contributed pieces of art to the project, the number of sculptures in the exhibit has doubled, and TBP has been incorporated as a nonprofit organization with a dedicated board of directors.
The project brings together artists, breast cancer survivors, and the public in a unique and meaningful way. The group of women and men at the heart of TBP are motivated by their desire to harmonize breast cancer and the beauty of art—two concepts rarely used together.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has invited the Project to exhibit at their annual conference in Chicago in April (2018)—a huge opportunity to launch TBP to a national platform. It will be located in the grand ballroom lobby in full view of 20,000 researchers, scientists, and lay people in attendance. Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix, Shepherd University president, and a leading researcher in the field of cancer, made the opportunity possible.
“The Bodice Project is an extraordinary example of the confluence of beauty, compassion, and reality seen through the eyes of passionate artists who celebrate breast cancer survivors,” she remarked.
Touching the lives of all communities who experience it, anonymous quotes from breast cancer survivors surround the sculptures within TBP. Not only are those who have had breast cancer impacted by the experience, the exhibit allows all visitors to become engaged, educated, and inspired.
TBP offers support to family and friends of survivors, as well as a means of remembrance for those who have not survived. It raises awareness among the general public and offers them the opportunity to approach the subject of breast cancer through art, instead of clinical explanations of the disease. And it contributes to the medical professions’ understanding of breast cancer patients.
Doctors and others who provide direct care often keep some distance from patients in order to provide optimal care and unbiased treatment options. One visitor to a recent exhibit, Dr. C. Peter Bontempo, of Highlands (NJ), expressed his views from a medical perspective.
“Every doctor should see this exhibit. For a surgeon, this is a bridge between the private product of their work and the now public, emotional statement of the person as art. It’s a powerful connection with those who have invested in this process in an emotional way, and brings the doctors back into their lives as real people.”
DID YOU KNOW: The American Association for Cancer Research is the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world that is focused on every aspect of innovative cancer research. AACR membership includes more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers, population scientists, other health care professionals, and cancer advocates—residing in 100 countries.
— ARTICLE BY: The Bodice Project