Bodypainting has power as a source of healing and empowerment. Working on the Historias Na Pele project with Agencia Terrua, Brazil, was an incredible experience for all involved. Historias Na Pele is Portugese for stories on the skin.
The project focused on six cancer warriors the women featured and their stories of how they fought through the battle with breast cancer. Each participant is currently in remission and had varying experiences including mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and the scars it leaves.
Capturing each story began was a long process, and began with much discussion with the subjects. Each woman spent time being in discussion with a psychologist and then with a writer to help them safely verbalise their feelings and experiences. Next came my job,
working with them and divining how I could turn those feelings, their raw expressions they had shared into art they could inhabit. With the assistance of a translator we used visual cues in the form of fabrics, paints, crystals, photographs, and totems they connected with that they had brought to discuss.
We used images, colours, patterns and symbols to connect those experiences and how they visualised them. The journey took longer for many that the actual painting. The Japanese art of Kintsugi captured our imaginations and gold featured prominently in many of the designs as a representation of strength. Many of our participants wanted to highlight their scars and celebrate them. For many the project gave them an outlet to explore and celebrate their bodies.
The project was shot in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and all of the participants are Brazilian. I had an amazing team working with me on the project translating and helping me to connect with them.
Each day on this project was filled with tears and laughter, even through language barriers we all bonded and I think created something which gives a glimpse into each woman’s psyche.
I was excited to hear last week that the project has won an Award in Brazil, Colonistas 2018.
These images picture by Bruno Fioravanti is from the book created to accompany the project.
I hope these stories continue to inspire women fighting cancer not just in Brazil but across the world.
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