This Thursday, October 18 from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m., the TSETSE Creative Center presents The Living Courage Experience, a unique approach to raising breast cancer awareness and encouraging early detection. The TSETSE Creative Center is located at 51 Empire Street in Providence, R.I. The event is free and open to the public.
On display will be over a dozen “living statues” wearing body makeup to simulate white marble, bronze, and silver. One of the participants, breast cancer survivor Nicole Bourget, is also featured in the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar. Bourget is the survivor model for October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), and in the calendar she is pictured gazing into the flame of a lit torch against a backdrop of the Providence River and the city skyline.
Modeling in The Living Courage Experience, Bourget reasoned, will be a bit of a departure from her calendar photo shoot, a tribute to the Illuminations of Life Ceremony at the Foundation’s Annual Columbus Day Weekend event, Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life™.
“The Living Courage Experience is a way for women to showcase their bodies in a different way,” Bourget said. “A lot of us have had surgeries and gone through reconstruction but we’re still women. This event will play with people’s ideas of what cancer looks like.”
Bourget, who was diagnosed in 2002 at age 31, will be eight years cancer free in January. She views her participation in events like The Living Courage Experience and the 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar as an opportunity to challenge traditional notions of illness and feminine beauty.
“Different doesn’t mean ugly,” said Bourget, a mother of two. “Breasts don’t define a person.”
Bourget, who is from Woonsocket, R.I., still bears the physical and emotional scars of a difficult journey, including a divorce that, at times, tested her self-image. But Bourget copes with effortless quick wit and an infectious positive attitude.
Asked what else about The Living Courage Experience appealed to her, Bourget laughed, “When am I going to have the opportunity to be painted head-to-toe in silver, other than maybe Halloween?”
During the exhibit, each of the statues will come alive and share a true story of breast cancer diagnosis and survivorship. Visitors to The Living Courage Experience will also be treated to a talk on the subject of practices for early detection by international presenter and author, Leslie Karen Hammond.
Timed to coincide with NBCAM, The Living Courage Experience will also feature a collection of fine art by breast cancer survivor Maurene Kennedy and TSETSE founding artist, Oliver Marcus.
“We don’t focus on any one awareness issue,” said TSETSE Creative Center President and Executive Director Thérèse M. Lavallee. “We specialize in taking causes and figuring out ways to creatively raise awareness and draw attention to issues through visual arts, music, dance, and new media.”
TSETSE Creative Center raises awareness of issues like breast cancer by supporting creativity with a message.
“This is not a typical show,” Lavallee added. “It’s very ‘out-of-the-box.’”
The Living Courage Experience is the result of a collaborative effort between TSETSE Creative Center, Elizabeth Z. Chace, the American Cancer Society, the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, Destiny’s Door, the Breast Health Task Force of Southeastern CT, the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation, and Tom Bombira Photography.
For more information, please contact Thérèse Lavallee 401-453-3337.
The Gloria Gemma Foundation was established in 2004 in loving memory of Gloria J. Gemma and to honor her courageous fight against breast cancer. The organization’s mission is to raise breast cancer awareness; increase breast health education; enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends; and generate funding for local breast health programs. For more information, please call 401-861-HERO (4376) or visit www.gloriagemma.org.