Artist Sal Brownfield has created a series of portraits of men and women touched by breast cancer titled "Sal Brownfield: A Celebration of Healing," which are on display at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth. Writer Eve Hoffman has included a written story to accompany each painting in the exhibit as well as in a book titled "A Celebration of Healing." (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
DULUTH — A woman seated in a yellow chair. A lady with a fringed shawl draped over one shoulder. A woman kneeling naked wearing a pale pink scarf. Another clutching a light pink dress.
While these women are of different heights, weights, ages and races, all with different backgrounds and captured in different poses, they have something in common — breast cancer.
In portraits painted on canvases five feet high and four feet wide, these women — Prentiss, Maya, Maria and Lila — are the faces of breast cancer — one in eight women will develop the disease in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Painted by artist Sal Brownfield, a Peachtree Corners resident, each of the women are captured in portraits on display along the Rowe Promenade at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They are joined by a lady in a black dress, a woman wearing glasses, a blond-haired woman sitting in a high-backed chair, a woman with one of her chocolate labrador retrievers and others for a total of 16 paintings capturing the subjects and, in a book accompanying the exhibit, their individual stories.
“A Celebration of Healing” is the title of both the exhibit and the book, and the project is the first collaboration for Brownfield and his partner, writer Eve Hoffman.
“A lot of the things I had seen about breast cancer, photographic essays and so on and so forth, it made it seem you had to rise to certain heroic states to go through that experience, and I thought, well, that’s not the people I know who have been affected by breast cancer,” Brownfield said. “Those people are the girl next door or someone’s mother or sister, aunt, daughter. Like all of us, they’re without any special gift for strength or anything, they’re just people who rise to the occasion, what they have to do to maintain life.”
Brownfield said he’s always believed art can contribute a great deal to healing.
“What I wanted to have were paintings that people would engage with and immediately feel, one, the calmness of the figure and the directness of the figures, and feel something good about what they’re seeing and then as they see more they begin to feel more about what this is all about.”
Hoffman said the exhibit gives people permission to laugh, cry, be afraid and to know that they’re not alone when dealing with breast cancer.
“The dark as well as the light are in all the stories,” Hoffman said. “The paintings and the stories give permission, this notion that it’s OK to go through the darkness, it’s OK to be scared, it’s OK to be angry, you are not alone. God has not singled you out as the only person to ever go through this. … Here are real people and you may identify with some of them.”
The exhibit “A Celebration of Healing” will be on display at the Hudgens Center for the Arts through Dec. 28. For more information on the project, visit www.celebrationofhealing.com.
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Local artist paints those touched by breast cancer
Artist Sal Brownfield has created a series of portraits of men and women touched by breast cancer titled “Sal Brownfield: A Celebration of Healing” which are on display at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth. Writer Eve Hoffman has included a written story to accompany each painting in the exhibit as well as in a book titled “A Celebration of Healing.”