Photo courtesy of Michael Colanero
Breast  Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project
Surivor Doris Jelinek with sister Colleen Scannell | Photo by Bonnie McCabe

Fort Lauderdale body painters Keegan Hitchcock and Luci Ungerbuehler have put their brush skills to work on a collaborative project with breast-cancer survivors and photographer Michael Colanero.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project: A Fine Art & Photography Essay of Survivors is a collection of photos Colanero shot of survivors in the body-painted designs that the artists created specifically for them. Each image symbolizes something important to the wearer as well as telling the larger story of being a breast-cancer survivor. Women in various stages of breast cancer have participated.

Hitchcock has been involved from the outset. Along with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized brushes, she is careful to use hypoallergenic cosmetics approved for face and body use, including products donated by Silly Farm.

“We only used water-based make-up and paints to ensure easy removal and that the models’ skin could breathe during the shoot,” Hitchcock said. “If there were any areas of open skin, not fully healed scars or ports, etcetera, they were covered with a sealed bandage and then painted on top or avoided.”

Some of the sore spots are more than skin deep, particularly with models adjusting to serious physical changes. “The main difference working with breast-cancer survivors versus any other model or client is the emotional sensitivity,” Hitchcock said. The balancing act between meeting survivors’ needs and working collaboratively with them and Colanero can be tricky, but she considers the payoff worthwhile.

“I have never before felt so strongly and seen so clearly that my artwork has actually made a difference in somebody’s life before this project,” she said.

Colanero has a target of photographing 50 survivors and expects the project to continue at least through the next year. All images are for sale; proceeds benefit the Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation, which helps fund breast-cancer care. To see the images, go to http://www.cafepress.com/BCABPP.

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project
Photo courtesy of Michael Colanero