Nov. 14, 2007
By Jennifer Krisch | Photos by Rick Fatica
On first inspection, it doesn't look like much -- just a light pink corset so small it could have been worn by a child. Then the eye is drawn to an arrow announcing, "Start here," and you do.
"I wore this bra on my wedding day," begins the script, tiny and handwritten on the fabric between the bra's ribs. "I couldn't stop crying. I was happy to be getting married. I was also devastated because my mother was dying ... her brothers came to my wedding to say goodbye to her."
Such a big, emotional impact from such a small piece of clothing. This is exactly what the artists hoped to achieve with "The Bra Project: No 2 Are Alike," now on display at the Ohio University Women's Center. The center will host a public reception for the exhibit from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday in Baker University Center 403.
The exhibit debuted at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville in late September and remained on display through October, national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"This is a great opportunity to bring together the campus and the community," said Susanne Dietzel, director of The Women's Center. "Breast cancer is something we can all rally around and put aside our differences. And besides, the art is fun and wonderful."
More than 30 local artists, including several employees and alumni of Ohio University, chose to explore the relationship women have with their breasts and bras, and to pay tribute to breast cancer victims and celebrate survivors. Each piece is accompanied by a narrative from the artist, revealing the relationship between body and bra.
"As young girls our bodies could not grow fast enough towards the day we would be allowed to wear our first bra," organizer Marcia Shubert wrote. "As women, we find them to be binding and uncomfortable, a daily necessary evil."
Shubert said the project originated with a small number of artists who intended to create individual cups to be put together into one large bra to convey a message of coming together as a whole for breast cancer. As word of the project spread and other groups got involved, the number of artists grew dramatically and the idea of one large bra was abandoned.
"The project sort of took on a life of its own," she said. "So many people wanted to get involved. As women, we seem to like that sort of camaraderie. There's a part of us that needs to express. It was kind of accidental that it became so large, but it all just kind of worked out beautifully."
The exhibit is nothing if not creative -- featuring a bra made from photo negatives and one in camouflage in honor of a sister serving in Iraq. A small beaded opera handbag is constructed of a lavender lace push-up. Another is rainbow colorful, but square, hard and made of wood. Like the show's name, there are, indeed, no two alike. On opening night at the opera house, guests were allowed to bid on the pieces in a silent auction, with all proceeds given to the American Cancer Society. In total, the group raised approximately $2,000 for specific programming for breast cancer, Shubert said.
Dietzel hopes the exhibit, and Friday's reception, will bring people of all walks of life to the Women's Center.
"I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring people who would not otherwise come into the Women's Center," she said. "It's a great show. I loved it the minute I saw it."
Shubert and many of the artists will be on hand Friday to talk about their creations and answer questions. Selected pieces of "The Bra Project: No 2 Alike" will remain on display through Thanksgiving.