Rise Above: Exploring the Many Faces of Breast Cancer on Cape Cod

16 images Created 12 Aug 2018

Since my early days as a young girl growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, I seemed to be drawn to photographing women and girls. In search of my own identity and place in society, looking through my lens at the lives of other girls and women helped me navigate my way into adulthood and shaped my perception of the world and all its complexities. As I advanced in my photography career, I found myself continuing to explore issues of identity and experience, photographing women and girls in countries like Tanzania, India, South Africa, Morocco, Rwanda, the United States and Cuba.
With my most recent project, I integrated my exploration of female identity and experience into an issue I see impacting my own community. Over the years I’ve known so many women on Cape Cod whose lives have been affected by breast cancer and after doing some research, was surprised to discover that women on Cape Cod are diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate 20% higher that the rest of the United States.

A few years ago I photographed local artist, Coco Larrain, the day before she was to have a mastectomy and was inspired by the collaborative experience of capturing her the day before this monumental event in her life. The portrait I made of her is still one I feel so moved by partly because of the unflinching power of her expression coupled with her vulnerability. I felt so honored to have been allowed into that intimate moment in her life.

This new portrait series, inspired by the portrait of Coco, was a collaboration between myself and the women in them and attempts to represent each woman's experience in some unique and expressive way. The accompanying stories are an integral part of each piece so please take a moment to read them. The final photographs are printed on an aluminum surface on a relatively large scale (24”x36). The intent behind the choice of this print medium is to create the effect of the women being present in the gallery space, as if to participate in the show and give voice to their own experiences.

My hope is that this portrait series will work to create awareness and stimulate dialog about cancer and its impact on women’s lives in our Cape Cod community and lastly, inspire people visually and emotionally.
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