Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. The technique is related to wabi-sabi, a philosophy that embraces the concept that an object that has suffered damage is enhanced, in beauty and uniqueness, by the vestiges of its history and traces of its repair. The same goes for humans; we can paint our struggles with gold and wear our scars proudly – we are more beautiful as people because of the adversity we have endured.
We were introduced to kintsugi by a video forwarded by a patient, who was recovering from breast reconstruction after mastectomy for cancer. This was the inspiration for Reconstructed – a photographic exercise in awareness, hope, reflection, and healing. The images are raw and emotional. They represent each woman’s personal victory over the disease, reclaiming her identity and femininity after going through her treatment.
The courageous women depicted herein are of the magnificent kaleidoscope of female humanity – in a range of ages (30s to 70s), races (Caucasian, Hispanic, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern), faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim), sizes, shapes, personalities, and types of surgical breast restoration. Beyond the obvious commonality, they were all profoundly touched by that inspirational kintsugi video, and all felt empowered after seeing the proposal for the project. Moreover, they all shared the same determination to use this opportunity to come full circle and to give hope and fortitude to other women on their journey to survivorship.
Ultimately, Reconstructed is not about breast cancer, but about love and compassion, hope and understanding. It is about art and expressing ourselves as human beings. The images glorify the beauty of the inspiring women who wear the scars that connect not only the one in eight women affected but also the people who love them.