breast cancer art: through rose-colored glasses or with realism, Part I

Many of you have already read about Angelo Merendino’s photography exhibit The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer that was pulled by a Cleveland cancer support center, The Gathering Place, after receiving complaints from members and volunteers that the photos were too difficult to view. Like David Jay’s The SCAR Project Merendino’s photographs address the starkly dark side rather than the pretty-in-pink hopeful side of breast cancer. Merendino’s exhibit opens tonight in Cleveland, Ohio, and Jay’s exhibit opens in Washington, DC, in October.

What do you think about viewing the realities of breast cancer? Is it too much for your sensibilities? Do you see value in showing this side of breast cancer? Would you prefer the view through rose-colored glasses? What do you think viewers can learn from these exhibits?

The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer. By Angelo Merendino. Exhibit at Convivium 33 Gallery, Josphat Arts Hall opening 7-27-12.

The Scar Project. By David Jay. Exhibits upcoming in Washington, DC, in October 2012, and Los Angeles in late January–February 2013.

Video of Merendino’s exhibit The Battle We Didn’t Choose, My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer at TGP. By Angelo Merendino 7-14-12

breast cancer art: through rose-colored glasses or with realism, Part II. By Donna Peach 7-29-12

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© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

6 responses to “breast cancer art: through rose-colored glasses or with realism, Part I

  1. I think people try to hide from life and the consequences of life, which included sickness, surgery and death. I think it is a shame that these films are not seen by everyone as a reminder of what it is we need to be fighting with our nation’s treasure instead of oil wars. It is what we need to be aware of when we don’t want health care for all. What we need to see to help us deal with our own fate or the fate of someone loved. But for some reason one mans cry of foul turns out the light for all of us. Open the drapes, pull back the curtain, let the sunshine in and let us all know what life is.

  2. Donna,
    Beautifully worded. As usual…. I love roniharvey’s words that THIS is what we need to be fighting not oil wars….. and how one man can cry foul and stop it for all of us…

    Hope you are feeling well and you enjoy your weekend…..

  3. Thanks for putting the question out there, Donna. Mistakes were certainly made regarding the Gathering Place’s handling of the exhibit. I think everyone agrees about that. With all that aside, yes, I definitely feel this side of breast cancer, or any cancer, needs to be seen, or at least the opportunity needs to be there. Then it’s always about choice. We can’t keep hiding the “hard parts.” In the end, that hurts us all.

  4. Beverly McClain

    I’m fighting stage 4 bc, but am not showing symptoms yet. I know I’ll be where Jen was some day and found it disturbing but also comforting to look at his work and communicate with that dear, caring man. His photos were made with so much love and tenderness–her last days, while tough, were spent surrounded by affection and were profoundly dignified. That ANYONE would complain to the point where the exhibit was removed is beyond horrible. Did those idiots not realize how that would hurt Angelo??? If they didn’t like them, they could LEAVE THE ROOM. This was his gift to his wife and to all of us with this disease that they spat on. I have a few words to write to that spineless gallery now that I know.

  5. Beverly McClain

    My letter:

    I was just made aware that you hung, then pulled, Angelo’s exquisite, painful, beautiful, loving exhibit from your walls after a few of your members complained. Oh man, so much is wrong with that I don’t know where to start.

    I have stage 4 breast cancer. I know I’ll be Jen some day though I’m not there yet. So I’m not just a survivor, I’m headed straight into those turbid, frightening waters. I found his work to be hard to view, but it was cathartic and moving, and showed me how beautiful and dignified a person struggling against cancer can be when supported and loved by those around her. What I saw in those photos was love, not decline.

    That a handful of people who couldn’t face this reality influenced you to prevent others from seeing it is highly disturbing. I’m not in your neighborhood or a part of your center. I’m sure you do fine work. But the reality is, these people could have left the room, or not visited the exhibit. Why did you allow them to trash this amazing man’s testament to the love of his life, and treat it like it was somehow bad or offensive? You should be ashamed for what you did to him personally, and for the general censorship that is all too pervasive when it comes to facing the realities of terminal breast cancer.

    I guess from now on you’ll just go pink. Cheerful! Hopeful! We can do it! Well guess what? Some of us can’t. Pink isn’t going to save MBC people like me. I was thrilled to see the other side for once, the one that Komen and the Pink Nazis don’t want the world to see because it doesn’t fit their “message” (or their money making pr model).

    YOU SHOULD HAVE STOOD UP FOR US. FOR THE WOMEN WHO WILL GO THE WAY JEN DID. VALIDATE US FOR ONCE! People rarely do, and now you’re as bad as the rest of them. You’ve abandoned us MBCers in favor of Pink bullshit and you should be ashamed.

    Beverly McClain
    Stage 4 bone mets breast cancer

  6. Pingback: Terminal Breast Cancer

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