Breast Cancer Art

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work, Emeritus

JULY 10, 2018

Using Art to Express Feelings about Cancer

Throughout time, people have turned to art as one way to express their feelings and to understand their lives. Consider the cave drawings with their almost mythical-looking animals and hunters. Walking through a museum is always a way, even for art-dummies like me, to connect with people throughout history and throughout the world.

It is not at all surprising that many people have used art to portray their cancer experiences. I have always written and used words the way that other talented people can use brushes or their hands to create remarkable pieces. This entry is to draw your attention to one recent sculpture made by Prune Nourry, a French woman who divides her time between Paris and Brooklyn. After her breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, she created this 13-foot-tall cement sculpture of a woman warrior with bared breasts. We all know about the Amazons, an ancient tribe of women warriors in Greece. The myth, or perhaps the real story, is that they removed one breast so that they could hold a bow close to their chest and more accurately send off their arrows. Ms. Nourry imagined her sculpture to be a tribute to all women who have been through breast cancer and to those long-ago women warriors who fought for their families.

Have you used art as part of your recovery from cancer? If so, please tell us about it and maybe share some images at our BIDMC Cancer Community.

If you Google breast cancer sculptures, you will pull up many images. Some are clearly home-grown and some are very professional. This is one of the latter. Here is a link to the start of a New York Times story and a picture of Ms. Nourry and her work. 

"A Catharsis Sculpture:' An Artist Makes a Monument to Cancer Survivors

“The Amazon” is a 13-foot-tall cement sculpture of a female warrior, with bared breasts, her torso and head pierced by thousands of joss sticks, jutting out like arrow shafts. It was modeled after the life-size marble statue of a wounded Amazon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ms. Nourry’s version weighs nearly two tons, and has lifelike hazel-brown eyes, crafted from handblown glass. It made a public debut last week, in a plaza outside the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, where it will be on view into July. (The hotel owns the space and offers it to artists; the painter José Parla and the pop artist KAWS have exhibited there before.) In a private performance, Ms. Nourry will eventually chisel away one of the Amazon’s breasts.

You can leave your comment at our BIDMC Cancer Community.


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