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Pressed

I strive to explore the idea of female beauty being uninterrupted in the tidal wave of disease and change.

A social cause that is close to my heart is the fight against breast cancer. Cancer touches many lives, young, middle- aged and older. It does not discriminate by colour, race or gender. Both my sister-in- laws, one from each side of the family, have dealt with cancer.

I wanted to use my art to explore the effects of breast cancer and help raise funds that would stay in our community to continue the battle against cancer. The opportunity that presented itself was to be part of the “Pinklish Confidence” event being held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The body adapts, re-forms after surgery, modifies to host implants and stretches to accommodate the new form. It heals in its own way and on its own schedule. Physically, women are beautiful and stunning before cancer and remain beautiful even with their scars.

At some stage in the discovery of cancer, women undergo a mammogram. It is a necessary and impersonal step in the diagnosis.

A woman’s breasts are “pressed” against cold plates in awkward and sometimes painful positions. I wanted to take this act of being “pressed” as a metaphor to consider the feminine ideal of the beauty of the breast.

I asked family and friends to “press” breast and body prints. Half the women who “pressed“ for the body impression exhibit are Cancer Warriors; the other half are Cancer Supporters who wanted to stand with their friends, sisters and neighbors and provide silent tribute.

The prints show many of the same positions a woman would experience during that inevitable mammogram.

Each participant selected her own palette of colours for her prints. I painted their skin with brushes over scars and marks left from healing and gently “pressed” her body imprint on to gessoed paper.

Some women had long scars from surgery extending under their armpits. Some had dents and hollows where their breasts should have been and had rippled skin where it was once smooth and even.

When you look closely at the prints, you can see subtle lines where scars are raised. Each print and position is different, as each woman’s own personal cancer journey is unique.