Grassroots arts organizations are powerful forces within a community for bringing people together in support of a common cause. The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley recognizes the importance of these movements by engaging regional organizations in collaborative partnerships and exhibitions.
In this way, the MSV allows the community to speak through it. And by doing so, the MSV fulfils an essential part of its mission to preserve and enrich the cultural life of the Shenandoah Valley—actively participating in the present to celebrate and share the accomplishments of those who use arts and culture to make an impact today.
The Bodice Project came to our attention through the efforts of its hardworking volunteer board of educators, artists, and medical professionals. Founded six years ago in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, The Bodice Project pairs artists and breast cancer survivors together to create works of sculpture that promote healing after breast cancer treatment.
On view at the MSV through November 1, 2020, The Bodice Project exhibition consists of a diverse group of styles, mediums, and forms representing and interpreting the human body. Many of these are actually plaster casts made by wrapping the torsos of breast cancer survivors. Statements from the artists and the survivors are included in the exhibition and provide candid insights into their personal experiences with breast cancer and the project.
Since its inception, the project continues to grow, reaching communities throughout West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Bodice Project also traveled to Chicago, Illinois, in 2016. Its organizers plan to continue to travel the exhibition and share their message nationally, with future installations in West Virginia and California.
Grassroots arts organizations help connect museums to things that move people. They help us get involved and participate in the dialog surrounding the issues of our time, and even our understanding of the past. They are one of those special things that foster a good quality of life within a community—a vital force. The Bodice Project helps breast cancer survivors and their families heal from the struggles of treatment. It speaks to all of us—to our desire to be well and to appreciate ourselves. It’s curious and fascinating. It shows us the power of art. It raises our awareness of the skill and creativity of artists within our region, and of their capacity and commitment to doing meaningful things that make our lives better.