Art has many functions. It is a mode of expression. It communicates experience. It encapsulates culture.

Our Healing Arts Program aims to create a healing environment by placing artwork throughout AtlantiCare facilities: at our hospital campuses in Atlantic City and in Pomona; at our Primary Care and Urgent Care Centers, located throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Burlington, Camden, and Ocean Counties; at our Cancer Care Institute locations in Egg Harbor Township and in Cape May Court House. We believe – and research has shown – that artwork can contribute to healing.

Creating art can be a healing process, too.

Our “Bra-vo” art exhibit showcases the artwork of breast cancer survivors who got together to create works of art inspired by their experiences with cancer. Lead by artist Kathy English, artists were encouraged to explore their experiences with cancer.  Kathy helped each woman convey her specific hardships, worries, triumphs and emotions through sculpture.

We used bras as canvases. From candy pieces and candy wrappers to a field hockey stick; from sequins to seashells; and from faux flowers to old car parts, our artists found expression for their cancer stories – stories of success and fear; of resilience and hope; of pain and of survival.

“I’m a five- year survivor of breast cancer,” says artist Kim Turner. Her exhibit, “Hakuna My Ta-Tas,” plays on the idea of “Hukuna Matata” – no worries – and pays homage to her support team – friends and family members who supported her through her diagnosis and treatment. “Every day is a new day and every day is a good day,” she says. “It was wonderful for me to be able to sit down and put my thoughts into crafts – to build a bra based on what I’d been through.”

“I beat up one side of a bra with metal for my first bra, ‘One Headlight,’ says artist Annie Arena. “It was very therapeutic, taking out all my frustrations on the bra. Getting together as a group to create these bras gave me the experience of meeting some wonderful people who will be friends forever.”

“The workshop is intended to help create another form of communication and expression for these women,” says Kathy. “There is a sense of camaraderie that we develop – these are women who have shared experiences and who understand each other. Creating art together – there is something amazing about artistic creation that just makes people feel better,” she adds. “Better about themselves, better about their outlook on life, and better about the way they interact with others. I was so inspired by this courageous group of women.”

The “Bra-vo” exhibit was first displayed at our Women’s Health Signature Event held Oct 1. The event is held annually to celebrate women and to support survivors and patients of any kind of cancer.

Bras will be on display for public viewing at AtlantiCare’s Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, in Egg Harbor Township, through October 28.

The exhibit will move to the Cancer Care Institute in Cape May Court House for display through November 20.

Cheryl Broschard is the Community & Cultural Project Coordinator at AtlantiCare.