UVA sculpture exhibit promotes emotional healing for breast cancer survivors

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (WVIR) – A new art exhibit at the University of Virginia Health System is helping women and men heal and build relationships after life-changing diagnoses.

The Bodice Project exhibit outside of UVA Health’s Battle Building provides a window into the lives of breast cancer.

Through the glass, people can see more than 20 sculptures, each a powerful tribute to a person who survived breast cancer. The artists met and interviewed survivors, then used their skills to create art – helping those who have fought some of life’s toughest battles to feel stronger and more confident with their physique.

“When the breasts are removed or changed or it’s so traumatic for them. So it was a way, I felt like it was something that could uplift women, ”said Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, artist and president of the nonprofit The Bodice Project.

Artists wrap women to make a cast of their bodies, then transform them into works of art.

“It’s very powerful and it really does make kind of a healing ground,” Fraula-Hahn said.

Amy Childers is the model of a sculpture. She is what she calls a “preventative” because she underwent a prophylactic mastectomy after testing positive for a deleterious mutation.

“I thought, well, you know, maybe I could make lemonade out of it,” Childers said.

Inside his sculpture are words from Childers’ diary, such as “wisdom.”

These are words passers-by can read, written in a medium Childers is grateful for.

“It gave me something else to think about during a time of immense stress and discomfort,” she said. “It gave me a connection with another person who was ready to listen to my story when I needed to tell it.”

The sculptures will remain on display until January 3, 2022.

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