SCAR Project is more than Art

The message: Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon. The speakers: Young women in their 20s and 30s sharing the same story. The story: Breast cancer came and they’re still here.

Large, powerful photographs hung on the walls of the Art Design Consultants Gallery downtown Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Rebuilding was somehow suspended between reality, beauty and lives in these images; and the SCAR Project exhibit challenge viewers’ ideas of what breast cancer is, what it does and whom it affects.

“If anything, to me, it’s about these beautiful young girls that have been faced with breast cancer and their stories,” said Litsa Spanos, president of Art Design Consultants Gallery.

Joules Evans saw the exhibit in New York and showed some images to Spanos.
“I kept looking at the pictures. This is bigger than anything I’ve ever done,” said Spanos, who prepared and donated the space for the exhibit.

“In New York I won’t allow these pictures to be viewed in an art gallery. I don’t want this to be seen as art,” photographer David Jay said.

The exhibit did more, though, than show the outward scars and aftermath of breast cancer. It gave a glimpse into each woman’s life and the devastation and recovery of breast cancer. Small, white booklets contained accounts of breast cancer stories, helping visitors realize breast cancer doesn’t just take a woman’s breast.

“These women are forced into menopause to eliminate the estrogen out of their system,” said David Jay as he reverently shared different women’s stories. “They don’t just lose their breasts; they lose their chance to have children, among other things.”

“Breast cancer is a part of my life, but it does not define me,” said Vanessa T, 25. “I don’t want to be part of the mold that breast cancer survivors have been confined to. It’s not always pink ribbons and charity runs. Breast cancer is often glamorized and commercialized.”

When approached with the question of how Spanos hoped this would affect young college-age women, she replied, “No matter how old you are, do self breast exams — even if you think you’re too young, be aware, and listen to your body.”
Early detection can save your life, as many of the women asserted when telling their stories; including Jolene V, who was 17 when she first detected a lump in her breast.

“I wanted to shoot for The SCAR Project because it seemed like an amazing opportunity to make a difference and help young women become more aware about breast cancer,” Jolene told the Scar Project when compiling the different women’s stories.

Life doesn’t ask when someone is ready for the next hurdle that is just on the horizon. And, while peering into these women’s lives, the honesty of the photograph shares a much deeper story than a scarred chest. The photos tell a story of fearless survival and leave its viewers with hope: the hope of survival, and the ever-enduring hope for a cure.