Show of Support
Gallery exhibit ties into Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Throughout the month of October, Gallery Citrine will be hosting a special exhibit to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Bra Ha Ha. One major difference between this exhibit and others you may be familiar with? The canvas of choice is bras.
“We were trying to think of something to do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month because everybody knows someone who has had breast cancer,” says SUE CUNNINGHAM, one of the artists at the gallery. “Even just within our core group of ten artists, we’ve had two with breast cancer. And so, we wanted to do something that would do some good and also put a smile on people’s face.”
The exhibit will not only raise awareness with these elaborately crafted bras, but proceeds will go to a local organization serving those diagnosed with breast cancer, Going Beyond the Pink. Cunningham met the founder of the organization, KARA KENAN, and knew the nonprofit’s focus on serving local residents in the breast cancer community was a worthwhile investment.
“I think people naturally want to do something good, but they don’t always know how or where to start,” Cunningham says. “Going Beyond the Pink is supporting our neighbors. That’s something we can do with an event like Bra Ha Ha – be a part of helping our own community.”
Going Beyond the Pink offers those in the breast cancer community resources, health and wellness education, and support for both the diagnosed individual and their family. Kenan started the organization after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty-five and realizing there were gaps in what was available to someone navigating their diagnosis.
“Some of the things I needed as a young woman with cancer, I just couldn’t find in our community,” Kenan says. “We have incredible oncologists and support groups, but things like health and wellness education, financial assistance for people who may not be below poverty level but are still living paycheck to paycheck, support for young people that have children to take care of … We wanted to target some of these gaps.”
Kenan launched Going Beyond the Pink in 2017 and has made a substantial impact in bettering the lives of those navigating breast cancer throughout New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties.
“The one thread that I have seen most consistently between nonprofits and businesses in this area is the idea of collaboration,” Kenan says. “We all seem to just know we’re better together.”
This is not the first time Gallery Citrine has used an exhibit for the greater good, and it is certainly not to be the last.
DONNA LAUNEY, Gallery Citrine owner and artist (read more about her as a WILMA’s Women to Watch Awards finalist this year here), says the mission of the gallery has always been to not only provide art for the community but to enrich it through fundraisers and more philanthropic-leaning projects.
Since its inception in August 2019, the gallery has produced events and exhibits benefiting local organizations such as Adopt an Angel and Good Shepherd Center, as well as helping Ukrainian children refugees through Save the Children.
“The generosity of the local art community allowed us to raise $16,000 for Ukraine,” Launey says. “All of the artists, out of the goodness of their hearts, painted and donated their works specifically for that event. There’s an extra emotion and energy when you’re creating something for a cause.”
Both Launey and Cunningham agree that that extra emotion has been present as they’ve both worked on the bras they’ll have on display at Bra Ha Ha. Of course, there’s also a fun factor when the art you’re working on is something like a “Treasure Chest” bra, all bright and bedazzled.
“These have been so much fun to do,” Cunningham says. “I’m currently trying to find a special glue for silicone, which is a first. But it also hits close to home, for all of us.”
For Kenan, Bra Ha Ha is an example of taking the reality of breast cancer and showing it in all its forms.
“We talk about going beyond pink ribbons, which there is so much beauty and value in those really iconic images,” Kenan says. “But I love when somebody takes it further. When Sue came up with this idea to have people decorate bras? Talk about gritty! It’s such an exciting form of self-expression, which I’m all about.
“Everyone’s journey with breast cancer is going to be different, so it’s really all about what’s going to empower an individual and make them feel heard,” she says. “I hope that’s what people find at this event.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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