Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Winged Victory" or "The Birth of Venus: Women Restored After Breast Cancer"

I would love to curate an art show of an unusual sort. One that would travel to various museums and venues around the country. I have some pretty good ideas for titles for the exhibit. In my mind’s eye, I see a sign mounted under plexiglass on the clean, white entrance wall to a large exhibit room. Maybe at the Minneapolis Art Institute. Some cities might not have a venue with such panache. But I would relent and let it be shown in other spaces, too, as long as the lighting was good and the location classy.

The art I’m thinking of deserves to be showcased. And the public needs to see it. The artists who work in this medium are extremely rare. Even if you count those who—to be honest—are not very skilled. But those unskilled artists would not be part of this exhibit. The art form is so little understood and so little seen that most of the population has virtually no standard by which to judge what’s good and what’s not; who are the masters and who are the charlatans. The ignorance must end. This exhibit could help.

Many people are impacted by the successes and failures of these artists. Their work adorns the most intimate space in which women live. Women see it displayed every day of their lives, so they deserve to know what they’re buying. They deserve to know what they can aspire to have. They deserve to know what excellence is and when “good enough” is really good or really enough. Because when we women settle, we'll only get more of the same—mediocrity at best, disaster at worst. We deserve to know enough to demand better—better training, better techniques, and—okay, you guessed it—better surgeons.

The art of breast reconstruction has advanced far beyond what most women know. Is every result a masterpiece? No. To mix metaphors, even Babe Ruth only batted 340. But let’s get past words and let some pictures do the talking. 

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
These pictures would be very different from those that make the rounds of the Internet every so often—the single photos, or links to photo galleries, or notices about traveling exhibits. These wouldn’t be the same as the ones used for raising awareness of the malevolence of breast cancer and our need for a cure. Not like those showing how inexorably breast cancer hunts down all women—not even sparing those in the bloom of youth, some with babes at their sides. These would be exhibited not to shock or to scare, but to soothe. To educate. To empower.

To begin, we need the artists—those who sculpt in flesh, as well as those who can photograph women at their most vulnerable. And we need the women who offered themselves up to be healed. Who put their faith in the hands of God and the hands of their surgeons—the most talented, the most skilled, the most dedicated to excellence.

Such a project would require a tremendous joint effort. If I'm serious about this, I guess I'd have to launch the raft to see if it can float, see if it can catch a current. The tide is heading out, and there's no time like the present.

The Little Mermaid by Edvard Eriksen


  1. Who put their faith in the hands of God, and the hands of their surgeons--the most talented, the most skilled, the most dedicated to excellence...such great words of truth. It's about trust. Wonderful blog, Eve!

  2. I volunteer to be part of your exhibit. - Sheri

  3. Great blog, Eve! It is so hard to get the information out to the women who need it. Your local breast surgeon will not volunteer it. Medical oncs are not even interested in giving their patients options when they have complimented a great surgeon's artwork. <3 Sue