Sculptures in New MSV Exhibition Inspire
The Bodice Project Opens July 11 and Honors Breast Cancer Survivors

Winchester, VA 07/07/20… Sculptures created to promote personal healing amongst survivors of breast cancer will be on view at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) from July 11 through November 1, 2020, in The Bodice Project exhibition.

This inspirational exhibition illustrates the struggles and triumphs of those battling breast cancer and addresses the question of ,“Who am I now?” The Bodice Project presents nearly two dozen sculptures, including plaster-cast torso works of women and men who have undergone mastectomies, lumpectomies, or reconstructive surgery. The impact of each sculpture is made even more meaningful by an accompanying statement from the artist detailing their inspiration for the work and anonymous quotes from survivors.

The Bodice Project began in 2014 by artist Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, a resident of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She created sculptures in support of a close friend going through breast cancer treatment. As more artists and survivors wanted to participate, the project grew into a traveling exhibition guided by a board of directors and network of volunteers. The Bodice Project now includes works made by artists from West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

The sculptures have been displayed in art galleries, at special events—including the 2018 National Conference of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago—and at universities. The MSV display marks the first museum presentation of The Bodice Project. Following its MSV display, The Bodice Project will travel to The Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia and the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, California.  

According to MSV Director and CEO Dana Hand Evans, the MSV is both proud and honored to open the national museum tour of The Bodice Project. “This exhibition is a moving tribute to the strength and determination of those who have faced and overcome the immense challenges of breast cancer,” says Evans. “Those who have viewed this collection testify that the experience brought joy and comfort to their lives.”

“It is especially meaningful that the exhibition’s first museum display is taking place at the MSV,” says project founder Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, noting that Winchester is her hometown and the hometown of Lou Ann Thompson, her dear friend who was the catalyst for The Bodice Project. Fraula-Hahn made that first sculpture, Ascension, by wrapping the torso of a survivor with a mastectomy in plaster and then painting an allegory of birds and feathers to represent the healing process on the resulting cast.

Along with plaster casts, sculptures in The Bodice Project are made of wood, yarn, clay, metal, and other materials. All works celebrate the beauty and strength of women and men who have had breast cancer, and many are the result of a deep personal connection between the artist and model.

For example, artist Christian Benefiel created Network out of wooden lattice to honor his mother, a breast cancer survivor. Fraula-Hahn’s Big Heart plaster sculpture of a male torso with a mastectomy depicts a physician’s assistant who cares for hospice patients and has helped other male breast cancer survivors. The artist painted that sculpture with an explosion of bold, masculine hearts as a tribute to the man’s compassion.

Many of the works in The Bodice Project are made of unexpected materials. To create her sculpture titled Battle Gear─which was inspired by a friend’s battle with breast cancer─Roselyn Sanders Mendez used upcycled metal kitchen equipment. Artist Emily Vaughn used yarn to make her colorful, crocheted Mastectomy Venus, a bodice inspired by her grandmother who contracted breast cancer as a result of exposure to radiation during her work on the Manhattan Project.

The MSV display of The Bodice Project was made possible thanks to the support of Winchester gynecologist Dr. Laura Dabinett and the sponsorship of Myriad Genetics; Women’s Center of Winchester; Winchester Obstetrics and Gynecology, PLC;  Drs. Anita Minghini and Paul Lambert; Shenandoah Oncology, P.C.; Valley Health System; and Tracy Fitzsimmons and J. Knox Singleton.

Admission to The Bodice Project—which includes admission to the special outdoor exhibition David Rogers’ Big Bugs— is $15, $10 to youth (age 13–18) and to seniors (60+), $5 to ages 5–12, free to ages 4 & under, and free to MSV members. MSV gallery admission is always free to ages 12 & under and free to all on Wednesdays; however, these free admission offers do not include Big Bugs.

Those visiting the MSV galleries must wear face masks in compliance with the requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Both indoors and outdoors, MSV guests are being asked to follow recommended physical distancing guidelines of 6 feet.

A regional cultural center, the MSV is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV includes galleries displaying permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, the Glen Burnie House, seven acres of gardens, and is the future home of The Trails at the MSV, which will provide three miles of trails for walking, running, or biking. The MSV is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each Wednesday now through September 2, the MSV is open until 8 p.m. Additional details are available at –END–

The Bodice Project Artists:
Christian Benefiel (Centreville, MD), Joan Bontempo (Shepherdstown, WV), Kathryn Bragg Stella (Frederick, MD), Sonya Evanisko (Shepherdstown, WV), Cynthia Fraula-Hahn (Shepherdstown, WV), Christina Marie (Sandy Springs, MD), Brad Hamann (Martinsburg, WV), Greg McNabb (Charles Town, WV), Veronica Nehemias (Thurmont, MD); Jed Rau (Winchester, VA), Elisa Rodero (Frederick, MD), Bradley Sanders (Shepherdstown, WV); Rose Sanders Mendez (Shepherdstown, WV), Anne Rule Thompson (Harpers Ferry, WV),  Annie Wisecarver (Shepherdstown, WV), Emily Vaughn (Shepherdstown, WV).