Every year we receive numerous art bra submissions created by the family members of our clients and Art Bra Models. These beautiful and imaginative works of art span the creative spectrum, but the common denominator across all these art bras is the same: love. Today we’re delighted to share the stories and inspirations behind these labors of love, and the family members who created them into existence.
Robin Weise – “The Koi before the Dragon”
New Art Bra Artist, Robin Weise, attended Art Bra® Austin for the first time last year. She was there supporting her mother, Karen, a breast cancer survivor who debuted as an Art Bra Model during the 2016 Floor Show. “I was so inspired by the community of people and of course the amazing art bras,” said Robin. The two of them had an incredible time together, so it was an easy decision for Robin’s mother, Karen, to decide to model once again in the 2017 show. As Karen explained it, “The 2016 event came just at the right time. I was recovering from surgeries, chemo, and radiation. This event made me feel great about myself and very hopeful. Now I am in the year of reconstruction. It has it’s ups and downs as well, and I again want to be a part of an event that not only lifts my spirits and gives me that “I Can Do This” attitude, but also allows me to be a apart of something that is fun and valuable to so many women and men.”
If Karen was to model again, Robin knew this time she wanted to design her mother’s art bra. Inspired by the ancient legend of the koi fish, “The Koi before the Dragon” symbolizes good fortune, longevity, perseverance, courage. In the legend, a huge school of golden koi were trying to swim up the Yellow River in China. They had to swim against the strong current till they reached a waterfall. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall, but to no avail. Their efforts were mocked by the local demons, who heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. It is said the gods recognized the koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon – the image of power and strength.
Robin felt this story was the perfect metaphor for her mother’s battle with breast cancer, saying, “Facing cancer is a scary and daunting challenge in life, maybe the biggest one a person will face. In that moment one can choose to fight and that’s what I saw my mom do. She has reached the top of the waterfall and is now stronger than ever.”
Made from over 300 polyester rose petals, “The Koi before the Dragon” was created in honor of Robin’s mom, who fought her cancer with the perseverance, bravery, and strength of the koi fish.
Diana Saunders – “Treasures from the Deep”
Anissa Gahagan – “In Full Bloom”
Diana Saunders and Anissa Gahagan are another mother and daughter duo, but this time, both women are the artists! Diana and Anissa are both veteran Art Bra Artists. They have been creating art bras for the show for over SEVEN years, and time has only made them better! Although they make their art bras separately, Diana and Anissa rely on each other for ideas and counsel, and perhaps a little friendly competition.
Diana describes her artistic style as classic yet modern with a preference for assemblage art and décor, finding the sometimes intricate handwork on her art bras very satisfying. Diana is returning as an Art Bra Artist with her eighth bra, saying she creates them year after year because “I am impressed by the courage these models possess in facing the challenge of breast cancer as well as having the pizzazz to model the art bras on a runway!!”
As Diana read a compelling novel about discovering and retrieving ancient sunken treasure, she realized that our healthy bodies are also treasures, reflecting that “Losing a treasured body part or having it impaired is certainly devastating and bringing it back can be very difficult, but is like finding lost treasure!” With that as her inspiration, Diana went to work on “Treasures from the Deep”.
Diana’s creative process was as intricate and layered as her art bra’s design. She sketched her basic design, secured the fabrics—one was even brought from Japan by a friend, a breast cancer survivor! Diana then layered and hand stitched the fabrics over the cups of the bra to mimic ocean waves. A deconstructed hand painted, silk man’s necktie was hand stitched onto the sides of the bra and swerved up over one cup. The straps were embellished with the three braided sheer fabrics, then stitched with scattered glimmering glass beads imported from Japan and the Czech Republic. Desiring “rope” to knot onto the flowing scarf dotted with tiny seashells, embellished yarns were crocheted and adorned with scallop shells and verdigris finished metal pieces. Filigree metal décor edge the cups with an antiqued compass hanging from a draped chain, while reproductions of hand-struck 17th century Spanish Escudo Doubloon coins spill from the bra front, sweeping around to the back. Finally, the art bra is adorned with a sand and salt encrusted cross on an antiqued gold chain.
“Treasures from the Deep” was made in memory of Diana’s former high school classmate and friend, Jennifer Capps, who passed away from breast cancer on March 5, 2017 at age 70. This beautiful woman was diagnosed 25 years ago, and was in remission for 20 years before her cancer recurred.
Equally as impressive and generous with her talent is Diana’s daughter, Anissa. “In Full Bloom” is Anissa’s seventh art bra. As a former student of Studio Art and Art History at UT Austin and Graphic Art at Austin Community College, Anissa is a true artist at heart and loves the opportunity to express her creativity, while contributing to an organization she has great respect for.
Anissa’s art bra design is inspired by a close-up photograph of a rose she saw once saw on Pinterest. She remembers feeling struck by its vibrant color and layered texture. Anissa felt the rose was appropriate. The rose in full bloom represents the full lives of these amazing ladies [BCRC clients] – vibrant and beautiful despite the obstacles dealt to them.
Anissa didn’t want to duplicate the rose itself, but rather, desired her final design to be more sculptural in appearance. She hand-sewed the wine berry matte satin over the lower portion of the bustier bra. She then cut out 51 satin rose petals, and used a technique of “burning” the edges of each petal over a candle flame to cause the fabric to curl and wrinkle. The petals were then sprayed with a fabric stiffener, arranged in rows over the cups, and hand-sewed to the bra. To complete her design, Anissa lightly dusted the edges and folds of the petals with a metallic pigment powder and finished with a light aqua glass bead accent sewn in between the cups.
“In Full Bloom” was created in honor of Anissa’s future sister-in-law, Kat, who went through a cancer scare last year but is thankfully cancer-free.
Samantha Cardona & Dee Campbell – “Shimmer”
This will be an Art Bra Austin first for sisters, Samantha Cardona and Dee Campbell. The two worked on “Shimmer” together, with Samantha as its wearer. Samantha is a BCRC client and will be modeling for the first time in Art Bra Austin. As mother of two and wife to her husband, Frank, of twenty-four years, Samantha works full-time at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2007, she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer, and in 2015, her cancer returned and Samantha was re-diagnosed with Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer. Since then, Samantha’s life has taken on a new meaning and purpose. “It’s a daily struggle,” she says, but “I’m trying to enjoy and live life one day at a time, and not let anxiety and fear of the future overtake me.” Samantha credits her “Lifer” sisters and family for helping her stay in the present and live life to the fullest.
Samantha’s sister, Dee Campbell, is the artist of the two. She works in the medical field in Tomball, Texas and is the proud mother of two and grandmother of one beautiful granddaughter. Dee is also a skilled designer of one-of-a-kind wreaths, which she sells through her business, Designs by Dee.
Samantha and Dee describe themselves as two sisters with a very close bond. So when Samantha decided to model in the 2017 show, it was a no-brainer for the two that Dee would help Samantha create her art bra. They decided to design a work of art that was elegant and reflected Samantha’s personality, and also shined with a bit of bling. The shimmering bustier is adorned with sequins, beads, crystals, and metal snowflakes. Samantha’s look will be completed with black, shimmery cocktail pants and a shining star headpiece.
“Shimmer” is a beautiful representation of the love shared between two sisters. We can’t wait to see Samantha strut her stuff during Art Bra Austin’s Floor Show. There’s no doubt she will shine in “Shimmer.”
Annaliese Martin – “Asteria”
Last, but certainly not least, is our final mother-daughter pair. This time, the artist is the daughter-in-law of BCRC client and veteran Art Bra Model, Debi Martin. Debi is celebrating both 5 years survivorship and turning 65 years of age – all in the same month! Debi says she can’t think of a more festive celebration for attaining both milestones!
This year will serve as Annaliese’s third year making an art bra for her mother-in-law. She says she has dabbled in many things, but one thing has remained constant: “I like to create new life from old junk. I live for the odd, the eccentric, and the hard-to-find bits and baubles.” Annaliese has a degree in International Relations from St. Edwards University, and has worked her way through various industries: semiconductor, circuit boards, horticulture, and now lighting. Originally from the Austin area, Annaliese and her husband now live in Plano, Texas. She also operates a funky Etsy shop called ArbitraryReliquary.
“Asteria” is most commonly known as the goddess of falling stars. The inspiration behind this stellar art bra comes from Annaliese’s personal fascination with space and science fiction. She describes her mother-in-law as so spunky and fun that a sassy space heroine just seemed fitting.
To prepare for her design, Annaliese heavily researched pulp-scifi graphic novels, drew up a basic sketch, and began cutting pieces out of foam. She soon saw a sassy, bright, neon space ranger in the foam and knew she just had to bring her to life. Annaliese says the lights on the jet pack were especially fun to make; they even have an “afterglow” once turned off!
“Asteria” was created in honor of Annaliese’s mother-in-law, Debi, for Tina Ibbott, and for everyone else who fights this battle.
Art Bra® Austin, now in its sixth year, is BCRC’s signature fundraiser. Every year, Austin’s talented community of artists, designers, and jewelers submit their original works of wearable art to be showcased by a dynamic group of Art Bra Austin models, creating an enchanting evening where everyone involved from the artists to the models and stylists donates their time and services. Approximately 60 to 70 pieces are selected from over 100 submissions to be offered for auction the night of the event. Top submissions are auctioned live during the runway show with winning bids as high as $8,500. For more information about this event and how to get involved, please visit www.artbraaustin.org.
ABOUT BREAST CANCER RESOURCE CENTER
Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) is a nonprofit organization providing guidance, education, and assistance to thousands of local women whose lives have been disrupted by breast cancer. Staffed by breast cancer survivors, BCRC helps each woman find her footing and determine the solutions that are right for her.
BCRC was founded in 1995 as a volunteer-staffed helpline and a single support group. Today, in addition to being survivors, BCRC staff are trained support professionals and experts in where to go, what to do next, and how to keep a woman moving forward through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. They serve more than 2,200 women annually, offering personalized guidance, robust educational opportunities, and several financial and personal assistance programs. All of it – free of charge – to the client. For more detailed information about BCRC services and programs, please visit www.bcrc.org.