High and Low Lights this Week with the Reveal Mission
A hotel in downtown Boise holds a once-a-year art show. Local artists are encouraged to submit their ideas on how to transform one of their rooms into a miniature art gallery.
Two of the Breast Cancer Survivors I’ve been working with had an idea to create a “Breast Room.” It would incorporate the portraits and stories that I’ve been working on, live readings by Survivors, multi-media presentations by other artists working with Warriors and Survivors, and art created by these women that expressed their losses, emotions, and their strengths. We even had a local chocolate shop agree to make us a chocolate bra to display!
Much to our dismay we were turned down. We thought we were a shoe-in, especially since we had seen some of the displays in previous years.
My dad helped me put it into perspective – “Your Survivors deserve a better, bigger, and longer lasting venue than the Modern Hotel for a few hours one night.” He is right and I’m now searching for the right place and time to bring all of these artistic visions together into a special presentation.
It still didn’t help my attitude much on the night of the Modern’s art show. I ran into one of the Survivors a couple of times that night – once, before we had gone through the rooms, and then right after. I think since we had been turned down for our own display we were looking for the great, creative visions from other artists. Though there were a few that did a great job some were just ridulous. I think the anger peaked when one of the hotel rooms was “decorated” as a used hotel room.
Modern Art my ass.
I ran into the other Survivor later that night with her husband. She had decided to boycott the Modern altogether She did have a great idea though that she wished she had thought of earlier. She wanted her and the other Survivor to wear t-shirts that said, “Everybody loves our Boobies except for the Modern.”
I love the measure of levity and creativity these two Survivors have. I am excited to see their vision come to pass in a venue that will create understanding, prompt discussion, and honor expression.
The following evening I was at the Boise State Ballroom where Komen was hosting their annual celebration for Breast Cancer Survivors. My friend Jim Nelson (who is the husband of a Survivor) and I were hired to take group photos of the participants. We had a table full of pink props and created a little photo studio for groups of friends or families could capture the night in a portrait.
It was a night of highlights!
I brought four of The Reveal Mission portraits and stories to hang in the hallway. They received a lot of attention and respect. I think a couple of new Survivors are going to participate.
I heard a couple of ladies discussing one of my friend’s portraits, “No, I think this must have been her before photos…” I approached them and assured them that these were reconstructed breasts after a double mastectomy, and yes, they look fabulous.
Later that evening that same friend was standing in front of her portrait with her plastic surgeon. She was telling him, “Look! Your work is on display!” I happily got to share the compliment that I’d heard the other ladies make earlier. They both beamed!
The keynote speaker, Heidi Marble, is a gift to this world! I was so honored to get a bit of time for us to share stories together. She journaled as she was going through her cancer treatments. She had photos taken. She didn’t think she’d survive the process. She captured her journey as she wanted to leave her son (who was six at the time) a story of how hard she fought for her life. She ended up surviving and her work became a book for all of us – Waiting for Wings, A Woman’s Metamorphosis Through Cancer.
Heidi shared the impact of her cover photo taken by a friend who is a portrait photographer who excells with natural light. When it was presented to her as a large poster she saw the beauty of her life – her spirituality and her strength. She mentioned that it wasn’t physical beauty that she sees, but that is where I view things different. I gush at the femininity and remarkable beauty of this brave woman. She has a beauty about her presence that is stunning.
When I shared my journey towards taking these portraits Heidi embraced me with her smile. When I explained that I initially faced this project with trepidation and that I had to ask friends to literally help build my faith and confidence – she understood. She also expressed the same gratitude towards my friends as I feel in my heart.
At the end of the night Heidi embraced me in a hug and encouraged me not to stop this project. I think she fueled it for a long time to come.
During her presentation Heidi shared another image. She titled this one, “emaciated.” I am not used to reacting to photographs. I’ve walked into a lot of hospital rooms and learned not to give away shock on my face. I have sat through many counseling sessions where people share very tough things with me. Besides my tear-filled eyes, I have a pretty solid poker face. Not last night. I gasped at the emaciated image and even said, “Oh dear Jesus…” Heidi’s life is a miracle. Trust me.
I recognized a woman from a video I shared a few months back. I introduced myself and we got to be face-to-face friends. Though she isn’t through fighting, she showed up at a Survivors celebration dinner. That is what it takes to kick this damn disease. Tina is going to make it!
As I sat at the table getting groups prepared for Jim to shoot their portraits I thought one was taking a little longer. Sure enough Jim was working with a Survivor who had decided to take her portrait sans blouse and replaced with two of the pink cupcakes that had been served for desert! It was a great, spontaneous moment and I could tell that Heidi’s message had inspired her!
I saw other friends, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time, and made connections with them and their cancer stories. I met people that I’ve only known online, includding Maggie O’Mera, whose video of The Reveal Mission’s initial art project brought many others to view it and participate.
My only disappointment of the night were the lack of men in attendance. I’m not sure what I can do to change this, but I certainly am going to try. There are some angels who need our ongoing support.