How We Started
The Bodice Project started to support a friend going through breast cancer treatment and recovery. Cynthia Fraula-Hahn created a personal sculpture for her friend using a wrapping process with plaster embedded gauze that creates a body caste of the torso which is then painted and embellished to celebrate the individual and their strengths. The bodice sculpture represents their beauty regardless of surgery or other forms of treatment. Soon, half a dozen other artists in the community joined in. The result was an amazing collection of sculptures that reflected a breadth of style but all focused on the strength and beauty of women and men who have had breast cancer.
The Bodice Project becomes an exhibition
The Participation in the original project was so successful, and the sculptures so compelling, that the art department of Hagerstown Community College wanted to host an exhibition. When Cynthia and the other founders of the project saw all the pieces together in a gallery setting they realized the full impact of the work. The idea to expand the scope of the project into a growing exhibit was born. The call went out for more artists to contribute new pieces and the next show was planned.
The first fundraiser
The next show was held at the Bridge Galley in historic Shepherdstown, WV, and it was a tremendous success. New pieces were added to the exhibit and text became an integral part of the show. Those breast cancer survivors who allowed themselves to be wrapped with plaster gauze talked about the process and their feelings about their bodies after surgery. Quotes were selected from these interviews and added to the exhibition. Both breast cancer survivors and the general public where very moved by seeing the sculptures accompanied by the deeply introspective words of the bodice models, as well as the artists own statements. All monies raised at the event were donated to the BCA-CV (a supportive charity for breast cancer patients).
The Bodice Project and the American Association for Cancer Research
The sculptures were exhibited at Popidicon, the historical residence of Shepherd University presidents. After seeing the exhibit, Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix, president of Shepherd University stated:
“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.”
At the recommendation of Dr. Hendrix, The Bodice Project was invited to exhibit at the American Association For Cancer Research (AACR) conference in Chicago in April of 2018. The exhibit was seen by more than 1,500 cancer researchers from universities, research institutions and government agencies. We were honored to have the opportunity to talk to many of these professionals about the art work and the impact of the art on breast cancer survivors, For many researchers, the art and statements by survivors gave a new perspective on the work they do -- the human experience of breast cancer and its aftermath.