After an eight-week studio hiatus due to a seriously intense teaching schedule I finally made it back into the studio today! Yeah... I was getting seriously grumpy near the end! I actually started the One in Eight installation project back in 2015 right after I completed my MFA and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (she is now classified as a survivor). I worked on it for a while and then other ideas and exhibition came up and it was placed on the back burner (so to speak). Even though I was not actively working on it, the concept was still developing in my mind while I worked on other pieces and installations and those in fact helped to inform this one and soon elevated the original idea to a new and better one which involves working with a colleague who is a photographer and thus the installation has now turned into a collaborative work where both artists know love ones who have experienced and survived breast cancer!
Interesting as I've worked on this piece over the course of months that then turned into years I've had to make several revisions to the construction as I discovered some of my materials were corrosive to the latex balloons. Specifically latex and oil paint... not such a good combination, nor is pepper and latex! Both ate through the latex and I was left with a pile of flour and or flour and pepper and hand to remake half my latex breasts! About then my mom (the inspiration for this installation) signed on and became my official balloon stuffer! Or perhaps filler is a better description.
I'm still encountering some breakage but I think it has to do with the balloons becoming more fragile as they are blown up and stretched while being filled. Interestingly I find a correlation between this happening and the effects of cancer, specifically breast cancer and the effects of it to the human breast (men can also get breast cancer) as well as the effects of it to the psychological being of the individual... the deterioration of the balloon is a kind of metaphor for the effects of cancer on the body.
And so... the painting of the nipples begins! I swear I haven't picked up a paintbrush in at least two years! It's nice to be painting again... but as with the ceramics of Objects of Desire and the carpentry of A Pot to Pee In I am learning yet another medium as the paint is acrylic! I spent 20 some years working and honing my oil painting skills prior to this endeavor but alas... in this particular case oil paint failed me!
I have a total of 160 breasts to paint, some are fair skin others are dark skin as breast cancer does not discriminate. Twelve down 148 to go! My goal is to spend the next eight weeks painting up a storm and completing the 160 by the end of August. I'm in conversation with our gallery director at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design to see if we can line up an exhibition for October (Breast cancer awareness month) of 2017 in the Rude gallery on campus... I'm also looking into other venues as this has the potential to be a very powerful installation. My friend Tya will photograph eight women of varying ages and ethnic background and the photographs will be exhibited with the 160 disembodied breasts, which will fill a laundry basket that is constructed of metal and lined with a linen bag. The breasts basket will be located in the center of the room with the images of the women surrounding it and the title One in Eight which is a statistic I came across in my research... one in eight women born in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer.