Posted by: jeanne | December 17, 2008

cancer art 17


here is a closeup of what i’ve done to the bra. in order to keep the silicone breast form from oozing out of the back of the bra, because i cut out the sleeve that would keep it in, i had to build some sort of framework. i picked a spider web pattern because it’s more female than a simple grid, don’t ask me why i think that. and then i packed it with wadding (paper towel, okay), and put some surgical bandage over that, weaving it in and out of the ribbon. and then i slapped some surgical tape over that. and then i took some black thread and stitched myself a mastectomy scar (i’d run out of surgical sutures (thanks girls)).

the symbolism of this is pretty direct. i want you to be able to see into my wound. the first layer is the scar, an then the pink robboms making a web. this is referring to the way cancer patients are at the mercy of the medical industry, being given no options except to suffer whatever “cure” doctors can offer them at the cost of body parts, quality of life, the stigma of amputation, the necessity of taking toxic medicine as part of a great experiment by the drug companies. you get to see past this web to the artificial breast, swathed in bandages. it’s kind of chronological, with the operation – the scar – and then the bandages, and then the replacement breast.

please notice how the paint has leaked thru from the front side of the bra. i thought this was most gruesome and left it in, otherwise i might have painted it white inside. but it reminded me of my imaginary image of what cancer looks like from inside the body. kind of brown and black and gross.

maybe i’ll do a painting of a cancer cell next. but it scares me.

i’ve been thinking about the two sides of this painting. the one side is a younger versio of myself, my daughter. the back side is essentially me, even tho it’s basically an outline of what’s on the front. but i have the opportunity to show how my body has changed over the years. the scars, the sagging belly, the breast that drops down to my belly button. so i’m thinking about it.

i almost want to put a thought bubble on the front of the painting, where all that pink is. i want to say something like, “hi,  i’m candy (or barbie, or whomever), i’m the socially acceptable image of woman. aren’t i hot? wouldn’t you like to touch me? go ahead, please.” but it seems crass. i want to get that idea across, but don’t know how to do it well, and thought bubbles just piss me off.

in thinking about titles for this piece, i come to a confused halt. what is my point? i look at the back, especially thinking about what i might do with it, and think, i can paint myself in there, and call the front “innocence,” and the back, the “hag of death,” or “amazone, priestess of the dark.” i’m having trouble with that, as well. too cute. 


  1. I saw the finished product before I saw this post and really it doesn’t need any words. By being left alone it is many women’s cancer experience. When words go on, it my distance the women who have cancer because they may feel different.

    I don’t know, that is just what I’m thinking.

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