Cancer Cells In Action (Sports) Art Exhibit

The ModArt/Boarding For Breast Cancer Art Opening

True masters of cooperative effort, the abnormal cells that make up a malignant breast tumor rely entirely upon their own small, independent group to guarantee survival. Never allowed access to necessary nutrients, they’ve more than made due with the process of angiogenesis, in which they create entirely new blood vessels to fuel the unit and feed its cancerous strength. Once solidified, this procedure assures internal growth, and thus external influence becomes possible. The once-tiny team begins a truly adaptive course of action. Through metastasis, these relentless cells begin successfully utilizing the existing bloodstream and lymphatic system for their own devices, spreading far beyond their original niche even before symptoms of breast cancer appear.

Intense collaboration between a tightly knit group. The ability to create independent pathways for the communication and fuel that ensures survival. Successful adaptation, even to surroundings that aim to suppress your influence. These are rare skills, and certainly only a group that has been forced to master them at the level that malignant cells have has any chance at all against breast cancer. Therefore in 1999, when Modart, a group that showcases the increasing influence of action-sports artists, joined forces with the hardcore riders behind Boarding For Breast Cancer, a formidable opponent had emerged.

Battle one of 2001 was recently fought, and the collaborative strength of this new force was displayed at New York City’s Inhumane Shop, where a series of plaster breast molds, shaped on female volunteers and then customized by the artists that make up Modart’s huge underground roster, was displayed in gallery format. Soon to be auctioned off with proceeds directed toward breast cancer awareness, it was soon clear that not even the real things would have attracted the attention of SoHo pedestrians and artists the way these pieces did.

Clearly, cancer cells aren’t the only ones that will take advantage of a controlled situation in order to propagate themselves. The adaptive skill of this artistic group was instantly evident in the variety of ways that different artists tweaked a common cause upon a common canvas. Some, such as Ed Templeton and Travis Millard, went straight to the point and tackled the sensitive issue of mastectomy by removing a breast from their molds. Others celebrated the youthful beauty of the female form–Lance Mountain’s piece was centered by a huge shining sun, while cheerful cartoon bunnies hopped around Andrew Pommier’s piece. Others seemed unsatisfied with the simple addition of paint to plaster: nylon stockings filled with rock and sand drooped painfully from Amy Lee’s breasts, a hand reached up toward Mikey Basich’s piece to change the station on the AM/FM radio that his breasts had become. Whirligigs and Christmas lights adorned Jerm’s piece. Emotion ranged from intense fear to the expression of survival against all odds, and social issues tackled ran the spread of religion to technology.

Like malignant cells, these individuals seemed certain of the power of their pieces as a group. The successful collaboration of those who have spent their lives adapting to an unaccepting environment and always sharing that experience was no surprise. I had hoped to question Modart co-founder and master cell Shaney Jo Darden, yet I couldn’t penetrate the wall of interest surrounding her, from NYC press to skaters, snowboarders and musicians interested in the cause to SoHo passers-by who couldn’t resist the plaster anatomy in the shop windows. Besides, the fact that she was happily sharing information outside in the freezing night air defines her relentless enthusiasm … considering that all she was wearing was a plaster mold of her own chest, recently handed back to her from artist Rich Jacobs and tied on with string.

I simply couldn’t innterrupt angiogenesis in action.

*For general information as well as upcoming auction and event facts, check out the Keep A Breast campaign and gallery at modart.com or Boarding for Breast Cancer at www.b4bc.com.

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