Breast Cancer Survivors Share Their Stories Through Art

A pink ribbon with the words "never underestimate the power of a woman" written beside it. The image is meant to depict the strength of breast cancer survivors.

Image credit: Shutterstock

October 13 marks the opening of “We Are Enough,” an art exhibit centered on body positivity and the journeys of breast cancer survivors. It will debut at Chicago’s Oak Park Art League (OPAL).

The exhibit is a collection of works gathered from more than 30 different artists. Julie Carpenter, executive director of OPAL, is hoping that the show will inspire viewers to be comfortable in their own skin.

“We’re hoping we’re presenting something people will learn from,” Carpenter stated. “I think what’s coming together is going to reveal real-life journeys. I think that confidence comes through.”

The exhibit provides an in-depth look at how breast cancer impacts a woman’s body image, self-worth, and identity. But instead of taking a negative approach to the subject, the exhibit will instead focus on how each woman was able to regain her confidence through solidarity and survivorship.

That solidarity and survivorship really shows through in the half dozen breast casts that are on display at the exhibit. With help from the Keep a Breast Foundation, OPAL was able to obtain six plaster breast casts taken from real women. Local artists then painted over the casts to make a statement about the meaning of breast cancer and how it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

One such artist, Jennifer McNulty, plastered the portraits of breast cancer survivors on the breast cast. Some of those faces are recognizable (Oprah and Lucille Ball) while others belong to more personal connections—the artist’s own mother and grandmother.

Leigh Kminek, a woman who had a cast of her breast taken, says she found the process to be intimate, but in a good way.

“I’m not shy talking about it,” Kminek said. “I have really come out of my shell after having cancer. I feel proud, in a way… this is who I am now.”

The opening reception for “We Are Enough” is taking place at OPAL’s Carriage House Gallery. For additional information, please visit: https://www.oakparkartleague.org/we-are-enough

 

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