School paints to fight breast cancer

Students create plaster casts of torsos in art class to raise money for Susan G. Komen foundation.

September 29, 2007|By Rachel Kane

Students, teachers, administrators and staff members at John Burroughs High School this month are putting up a beautiful fight against breast cancer.

They are working on a schoolwide project that incorporates art and social action by creating plaster casts of women’s torsos and decorating them to be sold at auction in late October to benefit the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, Passionately Pink for the Cure.

“It is so visual,” said Beth Morrison, one of the teachers at Burroughs who is leading the project.

“It grabs people. To be able to incorporate the art with the cause is so incredible.”

The school’s mission to raise money for breast cancer research and increase awareness of the disease started last year with health teacher Oakley Shaw’s monthlong event.


Students from her class fulfilled community service hours by selling pink ribbons and wristbands and taking donations at school functions to benefit Passionately Pink for the Cure.

They raised more than $3,800.

“I didn’t think I would raise that much money, but the kids got really into it,” Shaw said. “It was just welcomed really well by the school.”

This year’s effort incorporates students from wood shop, business class, the pre-med club, video production, photography, the Associated Student Body and advanced and beginning art students in Morrison’s class.

Students will contribute their expertise to the project, which includes marketing and preparing for the exhibit of the works on Oct. 26.

Video production teacher and photographer Rex Bullington, who has photographed poet Maya Angelou and producer Larry David, among others, has agreed to photograph portraits of some of the artists to be displayed with their work.

Morrison even received a $500 grant from the city to pay for partial costs of the supplies for the torso projects.

“It’s great to be able to take it further than just a pretty picture and make it mean something,” Morrison said. “I’m here to teach art, but I also want to take it a step further.”

On Wednesday afternoon, her advanced students were decorating their torso casts with stars, skulls, stripes, checkers, flowers, skylines and intricate designs.

Most of the 25 students in her class have never even thought about selling a piece of their art but will get the chance to do just that when the torsos are put on eBay next month.

“I think it’s awesome,” Sarah Grigoleit, 17, said of the project as she looked over her painted torso.

It bore a foggy forest scene with white branches and gray background. She had taken paste and layered it to create a tree trunk, its length rolling over the right breast of the cast.

“I have always wanted to do something that meant something and was not just for a grade,” Sarah said.

Morrison’s beginning students are painting small, doll-sized casts strung with pink ribbons that will sell for around $5 during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.

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