Womanhood After Breast Cancer

I used collage and decoupage to deconstruct a distinctive, well-known painting by Alphonse Mucha by overlaying a photo of my own body over his figure of a beautiful woman daydreaming.

I wanted to convey my sense of feeling physically and emotionally broken as a result of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After much deliberation, I chose not to reveal my body to the gaze of the viewer and instead to carefully camouflage my body so that it is only partially visible. In this way, the piece becomes a visual metaphor for how I present myself and my complex feelings about who I am – I wanted the image to be unsettling and to depict emotional and physical fragmentation.

Like the woman, I am ambivalent about the falling bowl because I doubt whether my cracks can be repaired with molten gold as easily as broken china using the art of Kintsugi.

We see the woman’s beauty and grace, but not her pain. By juxtaposing bold text against the backdrop of Mucha’s highly decorative and luxurious flowers, I hope the viewer is confronted with the knowledge of the continuing physical and emotional impact of breast cancer on my well-being.

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