In November of 2009 while a student at NSCAD University, I was challenged/requested to make a breast-plate for a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer and about to have a mastectomy. She wanted to be able to have something to remember them by for after they were gone. It was a request that I instantly said yes to. How could I not do it?
A class-mate and I went to her house and did two plaster bandage castings of her breasts. During the process she made reference to the casting in a number of ways; breast-plate, bronze casting, transformers, shield of protection, artwork - which influenced how I saw them and in fact guided the project in many ways. This project became more and more interesting and challenging the more research I did. I read so much about the Breast Cancer fundraising culture, the women’s body art movement of the late 1960′s, and I met with a scientist who was doing ground-breaking medical research.
I was challenged to think about subjectivity vs objectivity, idolized beauty vs reality centered beauty, and my intention or statement for this project - it made the whole project more complex. This was all enveloped by the technical challenges and a learning curve that was quite steep. I was excited and nervous all at once. The day after we did the plaster casting of her she had surgery to remove one breast followed by further treatment. I have taken a cast of her post surgery that I may use in the future with a larger project.
The model for this project passed away in 2014 and it has become a more meaningful project in my life since I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2018.