It seems I spend a tremendous amount of time promoting other artists and openings. I find it easier to laud them then myself. BUT I am in the midst of a project and have submitted a proposal to The Lucie Foundation for an art grant. First I’m proud of the work I have been doing with Carmen, who first approached me in September at the Hoboken Open Art Studio Tour at the Monroe Center for the Arts.
I was thrilled when she asked if I would shoot her nude. I gave her my card and 2 weeks later received an email telling me that she has breast cancer and would like before and after pictures. That started the ball rolling. I thought this would be a wonderful joint venture shooting along side Jene. He would lend a different take on the images – one from a man’s perspective. We shot the making of Carmen’s torso plaster cast, family gathering and the last dance together. He wasn’t available to photograph Carmen nude and I have to say that being with her alone, gave way to more intimate woman to woman emotional conversations and flow of feelings that would not have been realized had he been there.
I started to blog (starting with 11/13 entry – scroll down to older posts to get to the beginning) about Carmen, and my feelings, however I was echoing everything she thought. How could I not… I have breasts and they are very near and dear to me. I derive pleasure from them so the thought of cancer and mastectomy raced through my brain and put me through somewhat the same emotional roller coaster that she was on. I rely on Jene for my emotional stability and the balance he brings into my life, because as a woman, mother and grandmother it is difficult not to put myself in another person’s position. But for the grace of god… go I. Different of course because I was not the one afraid for my life.
A few people have contacted me about my blog and thanked me for my writings, my words hit home with them. That’s when I realized that in helping Carmen tell her story, I was giving others a voice.
Our society places so much emphasis of physical appearance as a gauge of beauty. My 10 year old granddaughter (who is thin) is worried because her thighs as not as thin as her older sisters… OMG. I don’t remember having body-image issues at that age. Most of us back then were too busy having fun and enjoying life. (I came before Barbie dolls, but Twiggy came onto the scene, making stick figure bodies sought after on runways and in some fashion magazines. Before that Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren were idolized for their curvy figures. Not that they were heavy – but they weren’t a mere bag of bones)
So with body image in mind and wanting women to be seen as the beautiful vivacious creatures they are, I decided to continue the project. To exhibit beauty – to show it doesn’t stop when age takes over or when your body starts to fail you. These women are entrusting me while they bare their hearts, bodies and souls and I want to photograph them in a way that exudes their inner beings – with all the sensuality that surfaces when they feel the beauty within them.
Thank you Carmen for connecting with me and to Sharon for sharing some of what you’ve gone through. And to Debbie, a friend, who will introduce me to other women in her restorative yoga class, for sharing and caring and wanting to have your voices heard, stories told and bodies shown.
What I am doing is photographing women with breast cancer in various stages, before surgery, after the mastectomy and after their final reconstructive surgery. I am compiling their stories and will publish a comprehensive journey with breast cancer – an artistic display of beauty and sensuality. I will seek out galleries to exhibit these images, making people aware of just where beauty lies – It Lies Within.
If you have any questions or care to talk you can get in touch with me through my email: