Sneak Peek #1

Over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing some sneak peeks for this year’s celebration on Sept. 29th.

This one is an awesome story of three friends rallying in support of their friend Ang as she began chemo and started to lose her hair. We had been introduced to Ang via email but hadn’t had a chance to meet her in person yet when saw an awesome event unfold on twitter. All four of them had a head shaving party and streamed the entire thing on uStream to raise some extra money to help Ang cover medical and living expenses when she couldn’t go to work.

It was a powerful thing to watch, and the spirit of it is representative of everything we try to be in this project. It’s an honor to have gotten to know these women over the last year, and we can’t wait to share the photos from the shoot we did with them.

Thanks for all the money!

Kate and I have placed the order for all the photographs in the show. We spent all day yesterday deliberating over it – tough choices. I am grateful we get to spend all year shooting and spending time with these amazing women, and only one day a year deciding which photos are getting printed and which ones aren’t. This year we found a way to share more photos, but you have to come to the event to find out about it.

We want to say thank you to all the wonderful people who donated this year – we took in enough cash to pay for the canvas prints we intended to order. We still need to pay for several hundred dollars of event prep stuff out of pocket, but the fundraising made a HUGE difference in our ability to put the event together this year.

We took down the thank you gift offers, but please remember that you can contribute to our project year-round at this link.

One incentive that hasn’t gone away yet is the tattoo offer. The lovely artists at the place across the street from our HQ, Four Points Body Gallery, have most generously offered to provide tattoos of our project logo during the Sept. 29th event in exchange for a donation to the project of $30 or more. They tattooed Kate and I as part of the deal.

Please contact us to set up a time slot if you are interested in doing this: ofscarsproject [at] gmail [dot] com 

Lastly, please save the date of the event – Sept 29th at 5pm – in your calendars. We need you there!

save the date!

we have chosen a date for our 3rd annual event – please put it on your calendars!
saturday sept. 29th @ the fox egg gallery in south minneapolis.


Speaking of Cancer . . .

the third in our Seeing Scars talks is coming up on tuesday. it’s one that i am very passionate about, and one that i think many people will be able to get something valuable from. the discussion will be led by our dear friend, Sarah Brown.


i started thinking about this topic during the planning phases of our first annual show and celebration. i was sitting on the porch brainstorming with a good friend of mine. she said that her neighbor had been diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly she struggled with what to say to her. she wanted to find the balance between checking in about her friend’s health, and not checking in too much – she didn’t want it to be the only thing they talked about. in the past they had always talked about gardening. so should she keep it to that? and then would cancer be the elephant in the corner? how could she be respectful and not prying? supportive without dwelling on it?

while everyone we talk to in this project has had a unique experience, there are many common threads that we see emerge. one of the major things that people experience is the difference in how people look at them, or engage in conversation. even strangers in the grocery store, staring at their shaved heads. it’s one of the things that can impact your self esteem as a survivor very greatly, and that’s why we are set on exploring it in this project.

i hope you will join us and contribute your experiences to the discussion. we believe that by talking through some of these root causes of self esteem issues in cancer survival, we can all play a role in making the experience less difficult than it already is.


october 1 soundtrack

we said at the event in october that we would share the music that was created for the evening, with the healing haikus that our friend Katy and her family recorded.

if you weren’t there, just a little background on that  – we wanted an ambient soundtrack to play during the event, one that wouldn’t be distracting or jarring, but would contribute in a meaningful way to the overall atmosphere.

if you go back and read this post about the haiku assignment, you will learn where these haikus came from. they were recorded for the event and our good friend, musician Ryan Paul got his band together and put music behind them.




process evolving . . .

in our first year of this project, kate and i were so grateful and eager to be meeting people that wanted to participate that we would schedule studio time and then jump in with cameras right away. it worked in the moment, but a more defined process began to emerge. we started to meet women who weren’t sure if they wanted to participate or not – so we started spending an hour or two just talking, hearing stories, and asking what motivated them to even be considering doing this. this seems so obvious now, and it has become an essential part of our process.

often in the course of that discussion, the photograph that i want to take of the person becomes very clear in my mind. sometimes i need more time to process before i talk about it, and sometimes i blurt out my idea in the meeting. when we met with our wonder woman, katy, she told us the story of having a double mastectomy on her 40th birthday. it occurred to me that we could help her reclaim her birthday – but that’s not how i said it. i get excited and all idea-bursty and just pounced on her with LET’S DO A BIRTHDAY PARTY!!  my words coming out hadn’t had time to align with where i was coming from in my mind, and it immediately didn’t feel right to her. we don’t ever want to push anyone to a place they don’t want to go, but i explained that depending on how we approached staging a birthday party it could be a chance for her to begin to replace a painful experience with a pleasant one. we did three photo shoots with katy, and we did end up doing the birthday party. she chose five of her dear friends to come participate and brought decorations and the actual birthday cards she had received. our mutual friend nicki baked a cake. people brought presents. we had the full spectrum of emotions. in the end, it wasn’t a staged birthday party, it was REAL. it was wonderful.

the photo that we chose for the october event was an interpretation of something that katy had told us in our first meeting: that she felt amazing support and friends and loved ones all around her, but still at times felt alone in her experience.

yesterday we met with an incredible woman named patty, and she went home and wrote about the meeting here. after the meeting my mind was racing with ideas that we want to try in the project. every single time we meet with a new person we learn something new, get inspired, and find our project growing wiser.

i wanted to write about our process because i want you all to know what we are doing behind the scenes, between events. i also want to let you know in case you are reading this and thinking of participating or meeting with us, so you start to get an idea of what to expect.

we are working on a plan to bring people together more often than in october. we are learning that though our project has a website, the real stuff doesn’t happen online. we want it to become more accessible, more often, and are moving slowly and surely toward that.

The Other Project

in the last week i’ve had so many people send me the link to this project that is similar to ours – The Scar Project and ask me how i feel about it. my first thought?


and my next thoughts, in no particular order, were:

  • does this decrease the impact of what i am doing?
  • what can i do to get that much attention directed toward our project?
  • would people more broadly understand what we are doing if we shared all our photos on the internet?

and then i started trying to answer myself.

NO. this does not decrease the impact of what we are doing, in fact, i think it makes it stronger. we are doing our part, in our community, to make a difference in people’s lives. i am glad we aren’t the only ones doing this! we can’t do it alone!

i don’t know what i can do to increase the attention we are getting, that’s not my field. but i will say that so far it has seemed that every time it starts to speed ahead of us, it’s not as genuine. the project has its own life, and its own mind, and it has bestowed upon Kate and i the honor of hosting it, holding its hand, being its guide as it puts itself into the world. it tells us what to do, and it tells us we don’t need to hurry to have an impact. we don’t need to hurry to be doing the right thing.

people may more immediately understand what we are doing if we posted all our photographs on the internet, yes. but . . . that’s not what we want. we started this project with the intention of starting a conversation, and to make people think. we had fears in the first year of how it would be received, and we were cautious in our approach. Kate and i personally both prefer to make people happy, not to chafe or shock. above all else we did not want to shock. we wanted to provide a kind and meaningful glimpse of real women doing real things and really surviving. and being beautiful because they ARE.

here’s the thing, and i find myself saying it over and over:


we happen to take photographs of women and use it as a way to express this conversation. we use it as a way to introduce you to women who have a story to tell. we use them as a way to get people talking about what the journey is after a breast cancer diagnosis, so that more people can participate and lend a helping hand on that journey. or to at least have a glimpse of understanding and let down their barriers.

every october (and now that we have our space, probably more often) we celebrate the women we have worked with by hanging up their photographs and throwing a party. this is not a photo exhibit because a photo exhibit can stand alone. it will still be an exhibit when no one is standing in the room. this is different – it doesn’t exist without the amazing people that come together. you look at the photograph, and the woman in it is standing there, in person. and you talk to her. and you hear her story, in her own words. and you cry a little bit, or a lot, and you are overwhelmed with the power she has claimed by doing this and you are bursting with gratitude that she has stepped forward and done this and helped to unlock the start of the universal acceptance that HAS to come.

she is a pioneer, and you are there with her and you become a pioneer too. and that is why we are here. that is what our project means. we welcome other voices, other projects. we can’t do it alone.

sneak peek #5: is actually a sneak listen

at our event tomorrow evening (sometime between 6 and 6:30) there will be a live performance of a song that diedrich weiss wrote when he was volunteering in the cancer unit & inpatient mental health unit. he has kindly offered to come perform his song Wounds to Scars, which you can listen to in the sidebar. look to your right.

and here is a sneak peek of us hanging the show. we are doing math!


sneak peek #4: colleen talks about legacy

if you have followed our project at all, you may recognize our dear Colleen. the first time we met her, we went up to her opera house in staples, mn and spent 15 life-changing hours with her. we learned about 975,000 things that day, but one of those things is that Colleen makes boxes.

she makes boxes for her son. there is one for him to open on his wedding day. graduation. the birth of his baby. the boxes contain all the things she wants to share with him on those milestones in his life. you know, in case she isn’t there to tell him herself.

this year we asked Colleen to do a presentation about legacy, and share her thoughts about these boxes that she makes. if you would like to take part in this discussion, please join us by 7 pm on saturday when she will get started.