THE ATHENA DIVISION:
The Athena division is a chapter of the Grace project. A photographic project that empowers women who have had mastectomy surgery as a result of breast cancer.
The Athena Divsion takes up arms with women enlisted in the battle against breast cancer and body image. True warriors, the subject of the photographs, are United States military Veterans, women accustomed and trained for battle. Women who according to a 2009 DoD study of the military found that their service gave them a 20-40% increased risk of developing breast cancer.
In the Hall of Honor at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery we draped these brave women in the camouflage fabric of their service and armed them with ancient Hellenistic weaponry. The portraits are based on Athena, the Goddess of courage and war, the results are powerful. These women have disrobed revealing their scars, giving witness to true courage.
Through these images, stories are revealed of women who continued to work, serving their country right through chemo treatment or women who were forced to quit their jobs and leave their service due to botched surgeries. Women who had never allowed themselves to feel anything about their cancer, or shed tears, until now, stuffing down feelings in order to keep up with their male cohorts. Women who had been abandoned emotionally by husbands, family and friends that were unable to handle the the emotional weight of the C word. Women left in the wake of cancer, struggling with the devastation that it leaves behind on their bodies and the collateral damage left on their hearts.
During the process of these portraits, tears were shed as the layers of stories unfolded. Pain that had been endured carried with them like a soldiers kit. Within the safety of their comrades in arms and in this magnificent setting, these women were able to lay their burden down for a moment in front of Charise's camera and share with the world something rarely shared by a soldier… vulnerability.
The Grace project will be exhibiting the Athena Division in Washington DC this coming November. In order to honor these women, we are hoping to launch the exhibit on Veterans day. Our goal is to raise enough funds to print 25 glorious large format silk photographs and create a powerful and emotional exhibition worthy of these and other brave heros.
Charise the photographer for the project will be managing the withdrawls which in turn will be used to pay for the printing of the large format silk portraits to be exhibited.
Thank you for your generosity... large or small... this means a lot to so many.