Toy dolls convey three possible decisions breast cancer patients may confront

This a personal interpretation of a friend’s ordeal with breast cancer. There is an obvious physical component to her story however the emotional stresses placed on her, her 2 daughters and her family surpass that aspect. Every part of the piece including composition, placement, colour, and detail plays a role in symbolically communicating this sensitive yet powerful experience.

This piece is featured in the documentary short film of the same name, DOUBLE by Picosphere Productions Inc. in conjunction with Bell Media/BravoFACT

The following essay is a personal reflection story by the artist.

“Victory by faith” she said. DOUBLE deals with breast cancer but it’s not about having cancer, or about awareness, or fundraising, or the surgery. To say it’s emotional is an understatement…I just cannot find the right words. Besides, this narrative is my reflection in trying to visually tell someone else’s ordeal that being my friend Lorian. The trust and responsibility to do justice to her story weighed heavily. It was not a pleasant experience. The story had to be communicated with the utmost clarity so composition was simplified with toned down detail. The image is a single portrait of Lorian with two doll packages hanging on a wall to her right. To prepare the still-life, a surgical knife was used to cut out the breasts from the dolls. The sudden realization that this actually happened to her, to say the least, was heart wrenching. “Holy shit!”. The clothes were stretched back onto the dolls. This was enough to illustrate the effects of the removal as there was no need to be insensitive and gratuitously graphic. As I start rendering the image, my mind wonders. The dolls were no longer toys, they have become Lorian. They have become her two daughters. “This is so f***ked”. The arms and heads of the dolls were removed to mimic clothing store mannequins. The legs were posed one behind the other as if walking the runway. The colours are high intensity, visually attractive, and first noticed in the painting. Fashion style is constantly being reinvented hence the meaning of the tape used to hang the doll boxes. It’s not permanent and easily changed. I see it as a satire against the poised arrogance of an industry that prides itself in having the power to dictate the definition of prettiness. Is that how Lorian feels, that she lost her prettiness? The lower package is empty, it held the choice she had made. The dolls are plastic, she has plastic implants, another profound irony realized. The portrait of Lorian dominates. Her expression says victory, at least for now. At the bottom left, an unnaturally cast shadow darkens the corner, a doubt. The hint of the unsure will always haunt her. Will “it” come back? The green wall is the surrounding hope of her faith that is challenged to the limits and perhaps just hanging by a “thread”. There are blank spaces on either side of the portrait. Lorian often spoke of her isolation, her desire to be understood and just have a shoulder to cry on. I crafted the frame using a hand polishing technique on the finish surface to create “blemishes” that are unique and particular. No other frame could ever be made the same. This addresses the issue of vanity, not the superficial kind fuelled by ego but the version that is supported by self confidence. Was Lorian’s shattered? It seems Imperfection makes the idea of beauty more believable.
Imagine what she felt. I did that for 3 months. The process was a 24/7 constant reminder that she could have died. On the last day with the painting completed, I went for a walk. I felt different. I am different. I felt thankful. I hear her mom’s voice say, “Victory by faith.”