Written by Art Bra® Austin Writing Committee member, Jenny Peterson
Since 2011, Dianne Sonnenberg and Monica Meadows have teamed up to create some of the most memorable art bras for Art Bra® Austin in their Treasured Chest series. They continue the theme with Treasured Chest VII: Lighting the Way — a stunning mosaic art bra evoking the shimmering elegance of a crystal chandelier. This year, they are joined by a third mosaic artist, Susan Ribnick, as the co-creator and Art Bra Model of this incredible piece of wearable art.
Dianne, Monica, and Susan have strong personal ties that make their work all the more meaningful — they are all breast cancer survivors, past clients of BCRC, and members of the Austin Mosaic Guild. This powerful and creative trio consider Art Bra® Austin a unique opportunity to harness their artistic energies while giving back to the organization and community that gave them so much during their own treatment and recovery.
Dianne, a 7-year survivor, is an award-winning artist whose works have been featured internationally at exhibits, studios, and galleries. Most recently, she was invited to attend at the prestigious Clauiano Mosaic Symposium, a 2-week residency in Italy to which only 10 mosaic artists worldwide are invited.
Monica, a 17 year breast cancer survivor, is a member of the nutritional sciences faculty at the University of Texas. After surviving cancer she knew it was time to find a creative outlet to express the frustrated artist inside. She found mosaic art, met and took classes from Dianne, and the artist in her began to blossom.
Susan, an 18-month survivor, is a graphic designer and owner of Vintage Mosaic. She has been working with Venetian glass mosaic since 1988 and has been fascinated with glass her entire life. In fact, it was this fascination that spawned the mosaic trio’s art bra into life. Susan was passing by a local chandelier shop in Austin when her eyes became captivated by the circular crystal pieces dazzling in the window. She knew immediately she wanted her art bra to incorporate these crystal pieces. Susan later went home and began researching the internet, looking for crystal and lighting experts who could help turn her inspiration into a reality.
This is how Susan found Matthew Santoro, the owner of Crystal Renaissance Fine Lighting in Queens, NY. They connected online and talked shop about the crystal pieces she had found in Austin. Susan then shared her dreams for a ‘Chandelier Art Bra,’ and Matthew, intrigued, suggested she visit him in his NYC studio. There, she could use his workshop and tools, and choose from whatever prisms she desired for her art bra. There was no way she could turn down this opportunity, Susan thought, and before she knew it, Susan was on a plane to visit NYC! In all, Mr. Santoro donated $1,200 worth of crystals from his studio.
The result of this collaboration is a masterpiece of mosaics that incorporate thousands of tiny pieces of hand-cut 24K gold smalti, glass mosaic, iridized Oceanside Glasstile, vintage chandelier crystals and ornaments, and LED lights. The chandelier crystals are hand-cut and polished, antique A-1 quality, Czech crystal from the 1890 – 1930’s.
While creating this piece, Dianne, Monica and Susan say they loved the idea of creating an elegant, wearable chandelier. “As survivors, we light the way for family and friends who are now battling breast cancer,” they said, “and the thousands of glass pieces exemplify the supportive network we have found through BCRC.”
This highly anticipated art bra, which will be auctioned live during the Runway Show, has garnered significant press in recent weeks, including the May 2017 issue of enLIGHTenment Magazine, and a featured video on Oceanside Glasstile’s YouTube Channel, “Bras for a Cause: Glass Tile Mosaic & Antique Crystal Bra Supports Breast Cancer Resource Center.”
The art bra also comes complete with a beautiful crystal necklace adorned with the symbol of protection, The Hand of Fatima. The artists say, “Our artistic vision is greatly influenced by the beautiful, strong courageous women who model for Art Bra® Austin.” No doubt when Susan models this dazzling piece on the runway, she will feel just as strong and beautiful as they envisioned.
“Treasured Chest VII: Lighting the Way” is created in honor of Dianne Sonnenberg.
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.