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HUNTINGTON — The Huntington Museum of Art will open an exhibit this month that celebrates breast cancer survivors.

The collection, dubbed “The Bodice Project,” focuses on breast cancer survivors’ healing journey. Artists for the project created torso sculptures of breast cancer survivors who had mastectomies or reconstructive surgery.

The exhibit will be in the museum from April 24 to July 25. The museum will have a video discussion with the president of “The Bodice Project,” Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, on Facebook at 7 p.m. May 25. The online portion is part of the museum’s Fourth Tuesday Tour program.

Fraula-Hahn said the art pieces were created after an artist was paired with a survivor. Through that connection, the artist was able to get in touch with the survivor’s journey and emotions.

“The whole purpose of the show is to show what happens to survivors and what happens after treatment,” Fraula-Hahn said.

The idea for the sculptures came to Fraula-Hahn after watching a close friend go through breast cancer. The project started as installations in front of businesses. Since then, “The Bodice Project” has been on display in galleries and museums.

Fraula-Hahn said the project “took on a life of its own.” One of the most rewarding parts is being able to see viewers come to an exhibit and be moved by the pieces. In addition to the display of torsos throughout the gallery, anonymous quotes from breast cancer survivors about their experiences are shown.

In some ways, the pandemic affected public displays, she said. Last year, “The Bodice Project” was an exhibit at the Museum of Shenandoah Valley.

Because of the pandemic, a reception to open the display was canceled. Fraula-Hahn said she couldn’t see the reaction of the viewers, which is one of her favorite parts of the exhibit.

Fraula-Hahn said she started the project after seeing a friend be diagnosed with breast cancer and undergo treatment.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. It’s using the arts to heal,” Fraula-Hahn said.

The exhibit is presented with support from The Katherine & Herman Pugh Exhibitions Endowment. Additional support was provided by Women 2 Women of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

For more information on exhibitions at the Huntington Museum of Art, visit hmoa.org or call 304-529-2701. HMA is fully accessible.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @mckennahorsley.

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