Fox in the Egg
When Twin Cities photographer Elli Rader heard about the opportunity to shoot pictures of mastectomy and lumpectomy scars, she immediately said yes. “Imagine the strength and courage that a woman can reallocate to fighting the battle against breast cancer if she isn’t also feeling disfigured or mourning the loss of her femininity. We owe this to women everywhere who are fighting this battle—they are beautiful on so many levels, and they should feel that way,” rader says.
Of Scars, now in its third year, aims to offer insight into the emotional journey through breast cancer. Photographs offer breast cancer survivors a unique opportunity to put their surgical scars on display, and celebrate these marks as proof of survival and badges of honor. “There’s a whole industry devoted to hiding these scars,”collaborator Kate Bailey says. “You can buy lingerie designed to conceal mastectomy scars, or bikinis that hide them. There’s a message that scars are ugly. But they’re proof of survival, and survival is beautiful. We thought it was time to display it.”
“Though the project is not the first to display the scars of breast cancer survivors, it is unique in its vision. We want to start a new conversation,” Bailey says. “With one in every eight women dealing with breast cancer at some point in their lives, these scars are statistically more normal than being a natural redhead. We want to ask ourselves why we tell women that these scars are abnormal, why we’re uncomfortable with them. We want to invite viewers to realize that these scars are everywhere, and they’re an amazing affirmation of life.”
“We are doing this project out of love, honor and respect. We hope that it will be met with the same. The strength of a woman is universally beautiful, with or without scars,” rader says.
Bailey is a writer and photographer who conceived the project after watching her own mother’s challenges after a bilateral mastectomy in 2007. Elli Rader is the founder of Paperlily Photography.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Elli Rader or Kate Bailey, call 952-564-9753.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Fox Egg Gallery will host the 4th Annual Celebration of Scars at 3730 Chicago Ave. S. from 5 to 9 p.m. Music by Molly Dean starts at 6:30. There will be snacks and a gathering of a “supportive and powerful community.
Every third Tuesday (in September that would be the 17th) from 7 to 8 p.m. there is a Seeing Scars Discussion Group at the Fox Egg Gallery where breast cancer survivors and interested community members record a podcast as they discuss survival and all its many adventures.
At Fox Egg on the last Thursday of every month (in September that would be the 26th) from 7 to 10 p.m. there is a meeting of The Revolutionary Project Club, founded by Camille Gage, one of the members of the cult favorite all-girl alt-rock band Tetes Noirs, who later segued into public art and mixed media performance, often with a topical edge. In August the Revolutionary Project had to do with bees: Bee Aware at the State Fair, an activist event at the Horticulture Building.
Breasts are curious. Other mammals don’t develop fully engorged breasts except when they’re feeding their young, but rounded female buttocks and plump breasts are universal and unique to the human primate. In “Origin of the Species,” Darwin believed that many animals evolve features whose function is not exclusively to help them survive but to maximize their reproductive success either by making themselves attractive to the opposite sex or by defeating same sex rivals. Also, it’s entirely possible that at some point when the strongest male would fight off any rivals, the female would want to develop feminine characteristics that would prevent her from being mistaken for a hapless male, and, so, over thousands of years, she developed full breasts, broad hips and less hair on her body.
It’s possible to imagine a time in the future when breasts will not be as important a distinguishing sexual characteristic for men and women. People are discovering that the most powerful sex organ is the one between their ears.
Maybe that’s the secret to the fox inside the egg.