Artist Turns Breast Cancer Into Cause for Humorous, Boob–Themed Art Show

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Last January, Los Angeles–based artist Bettina Hubby was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. When she told friends and family, “they all reacted with panic and fear and sadness," she says. "I couldn’t get my head around how that would feel in my community — to have all of that coming back at me at a time when I just needed the opposite. So I thought, Okay, I need to do this differently.”

The night before her mastectomy in April, Hubby created a new Facebook event and titled it “Thanks for the Mammaries.” She invited Facebook friends to send her “jokes, pictures, and boobs.” Before she went into surgery the next morning, she opened the social network to find dozens — and then hundreds — of messages of support, photos, and boob jokes. Friends had blanketed her Facebook wall with breasts hiding in plain sight, like oranges in the produce aisle or on the Land O’Lakes carton. “I went into surgery feeling like I had accomplished something beautiful,” she said. When she came out the other side, she, too, noticed boobs were everywhere:  Home Depot! A funny-looking potato! Andy Rooney! “It dawned on me quite quickly that the way to go was to announce it, and not to be private about it, and not to be afraid of what people saw, or any kind of judgment," she says. "It actually became even more clear that it would help other people if I approached it with some kind of humor.”

Bettina Hubby

Soon, she decided to curate an exhibition around her realization — inviting artists around the country to submit boob-themed art. And, after months of work, the show — entitled "Thanks for the Mammaries" — opened on Thursday at ForYourArt in Los Angeles, with more than a 100 works celebrating breasts. For the occasion, she printed out a 35-foot-long version of her Facebook wall, filled with funny pictures and messages, on silk and hung it in the show. Click through our slideshow for highlights from the exhibition.  

"Thanks for the Mammaries: Artists Uniting With Breast Intentions" is on view at ForYourArt in Los Angeles through August 17. A portion of the proceeds to go the Cancer Support Community — Benjamin Center.

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