Artist's Statement from the The Cancer Freak Project at Gallerie La Petite Mort in 2014
The Cancer Freak Project expresses my current inescapable and all-consuming physical and emotional experience fighting breast cancer, in particular the physical realities of the side effects of my treatment. Scars, swelling and the loss of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes have transformed my body and its appearance to me and the perception of others.
As part of my treatment, I had been encouraged to exercise my design sKills artistically and to document my body with photographs since cancer has prevented me from expressing myself as I do usually through my costume and set design work. My final project includes three full-size costumes, displayed on dress forms, and constructed mostly from medical supplies repurposed from my own treatment . I have also created a series of collages on panel board and painted work on paper as well as on canvas.
The three main works reflect my three ever-changing moods based on my post-surgery, mid-treatment self-concept and understanding of how others visually perceive me. Morphed Beast is part mythological creature and part scarred female torso – a combination Pan-mermaid and female Frankenstein. The Warrior captures a more stereotypical fight against the disease and is somewhat Roman inspired. Finally, Feminine Disguise represents the times I made an effort to make myself look presentable when leaving my home and private world and going out into public, trying to not look like I had cancer. My hope was that I could possibly help others find pride in their appearance when going to the hospital for treatment and appointments. Occasionally I even fooled myself, forgot what was going on under the clothes and momentarily felt beautiful and sexy again.
For the first time I have managed to merge my two passions in one art form.