Hadassah cancer survivors bare all at Breast Strokes gala

By Logan C. Ritchie

lritchie@atljewishtimes.com

Such images of torsos painted in the fall will be on display at the Big Reveal.

Breast Strokes: Hadassah Bares All for ART (Awareness, Research & Treatment) stands to be the most intimate display of beauty and awareness at Greater Atlanta Hadassah’s Big Reveal fundraiser and gala Feb. 28. It kicks off the chapter’s centennial celebration.

The Westside Cultural Arts Center, a gallerylike space in West Midtown, is the setting for the affair. A silent auction, a live auction, food and cocktails are part of the evening, but the huge photography exhibition of painted women is the star of the event.

In October, 13 local artists met breast cancer survivors and those affected by the disease for a day of sisterhood, revelry and painting — torsos, that is. Thirty-five Hadassah women had their bodies painted from neck to navel and photographed by eight onsite photographers.

Hadassah has kept the identities of the models anonymous, but women are proud to speak of their survivorship and contributions to this fundraiser.

Lori Holmes, a breast cancer survivor of six years, suggested that the artist paint a specific image on her body. “Where others chose to have the artist make a beautiful picture, I wanted to speak for myself. I took pictures with my sister and best friend, and we held hands. It was the strength of them who got me through,” she said. “It spoke to me and my experience.”

Holmes said painting day was empowering. “It was a scene of total camaraderie. We walked away with our breasts exposed, everyone showing off their painting. The openness of women who support the cause struck me.”

Sue and her two sisters, all models and breast cancer survivors, were joined for paint day by their mother. Sue is the only local; her family flew in to be a part of the exhibit.

“The breast cancer diagnosis we each received brought us even closer in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” Sue said. “When I reached out to my mother and sisters about Breast Strokes, they didn’t hesitate to say yes. We hope our participation as a family will strike a chord in raising awareness of and contributions to research in future generations.”

Artist Susan Proctor was invited to paint by co-chair Holly Strelzik. An abstract painter, Proctor said of paint day: “I hardly paid attention to people around me. Painting was intense, and I was so focused that I didn’t know what was happening around me.”

Each of Proctor’s three subjects received different designs: one henna, one Picasso and one with an original design. “I wanted to make each person happy because they were very brave,” Proctor said. “I was truly impressed with their courage.”

The Big Reveal also marks the 20th anniversary of Check It Out, a joint effort between Hadassah and Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. Check It Out has educated 35,000 women in metro Atlanta high schools on the importance of self-exams to screen for breast cancer, as well as early detection and medical resources.


 

What: The Big Reveal ART Gala and Auction

Where: Westside Cultural Arts Center, 760 10th St., West Midtown Atlanta

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28

Tickets: $50 in advance, $65 at the door; www.hadassah.org/atlanta/breaststrokes.