The Reveal Mission at BSU

It is the eve of my biggest art show to date. I have an amazing venue to share the Reveal Mission on the Boise State Campus. I have an amazing backing in the University at the request of the Association of BSU Students. I have a reception on Wed night that BSU is hosting (yes, that means they are paying for the Mediterranean hors d’oeuvres that will be served). The advertisements are up all over campus, created by the campus art department. The Reveal Mission art show is now on metal prints, not needing any framing; it is easy to transport, and even easier to hang. Needless to say, I am very excited!

Despite what should be considered an epic win, what I experienced yesterday at a gathering of my Reveal Mission colleagues was more important to me than anything that will happen the rest of this month. In the afternoon we gathered at the home of one of the participants from the first show from two years ago. She and her partner opened their home so we could do a pre-show for all of the new Reveal Mission participants. It was their idea and it was simply marvelous – it so captured the heart of what this project is all about!

The main reason that Jamie and I started this project was so that our friends who had experienced breast cancer would have the full freedom to share their stories without shame. Yesterday, getting to experience these breast cancer warriors and survivors interact with each other and significantly share their stories was extremely meaningful and fulfilling.

What I have experienced in these past three years is that every person’s journey through breast cancer is significant. Each of these individuals have unique challenges and perspectives. Each one of them deserve to be listened to. Each of their stories deserves to be championed.

It has been very significant to me that these champions have allowed to use my camera to capture a portrait of their reality. This whole concept was so outside my grid when I started the project I really didn’t know what to expect. My concept of bodies, body image, breasts, scars and transformation has been radically changed since when I started this journey. Each person that has allowed me into their sacred space has given me a gift. I only hope that what I am offering back is valuable to them as well.

I also love to capture their stories in words. I’ll admit that when I read great writers I wince at my own writing limitations. However, I love seeing the response when one of these survivors reads my retelling of their journeys and feels a sense of validation. Though I always feel convicted for leaving out any details of their journey, I know that the art of rendering down a chapter of their life into a single page so that it can be absorbed by a captivated audience, is what storytelling is all about. When these survivors feel validated, when they know they’ve been listened too, when they know their story is being shared with honor, and when they know their vulnerability is making a difference, then I know that together we have won.

It is also very significant when one of these survivors decides to write their own story for the Reveal Mission themselves. When this happens I celebrate that they have found their voice that drowns out the lies that Shame has been whispering to them.

If all we had been working towards was the sharing that happened yesterday, then this past three years would have been worth every single moment. Yet the incredible thing is that there is more. Tomorrow, I have 17 friends that have chosen to share their stories publicly. Their statements will be accessible from October 13th through the end of the month. I hope that you will attend. I hope that you will see. I hope that you will listen.