It didn’t take long for Donna Young, co-owner and sculptor at Isabel Bloom, to be inspired by the bare bodice.
“I knew right away that I wanted it to be a lamp,” Young said.
Young, one of 24 area female artists tasked with creating a work of art out of mannequin-esque bodices, wanted hers to be functional.
“I want someone to want it to be displayed in their home,” she said. “I guess I’m a practical person.”
The resulting bodice, which she decorated with mosaic tiles and titled “The Power of Paisley,” has much more meaning behind it than filling space.
Her creation, on display at Isabel Bloom, 736 Federal St., Davenport, is part of the Bodice Project, a new kind of fundraiser presented by the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative, a Rock Island-based nonprofit. For the fundraiser, 24 one-of-a-kind bodices were created by 24 area female artists with the mission of using art to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.
You can view all of the bodices, with signage about the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative, now at 24 sites around the Quad-Cities such as the Bereskin Gallery & Art Academy, Adler Theatre, Figge Art Museum, Burke Cleaners and Augustana College’s Gerber Hall.
They will be on display through Sept. 20, in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Then, the project culminates in an auction party, in which the public is invited to bid on the bodices. Proceeds go to the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative. The auction party is scheduled for Sept. 23 at the Figge Art Museum.
The Bodice Project is somewhat of an “offshoot,” of the foundation’s annual girlpARTS FEST, which started in 2015, according to executive director Jodie Kavensky. She said the foundation is still searching for a “signature event” and the Bodice Project could fill that role.
“(The bodices) stop people in their tracks to see what it’s all about,” Kavensky said. “It’s hard not to stop and look at them. They’re pretty breathtaking.”
And so are the stories behind them.
Each bodice is different; their inspirations range from butterflies to dresses to mermaids to emotions or words associated with ovarian cancer. Kavensky said several participating artists have personal ties to the disease.
One bodice, titled “Olivia: A tribute to women lost to ovarian cancer and those who love them,” was inspired by eight women who were personally affected by ovarian cancer. Their names are printed on the design.
Many incorporate teal, the color symbolizing ovarian cancer awareness. T.E.A.L. also serves as an acronym for Tell Every Amazing Lady about ovarian cancer. By the way, Friday, Sept. 1, has been dubbed National Wear Teal Day in honor of ovarian cancer awareness.
As for Young's inspiration?
“I looked up the meaning of paisley and it’s really about life, from the seed to the blossom to the bloom,” she said. “I just thought, the initiative is here is saving lives and so I thought the paisley spoke to that.”
“The whole point is it’s going to bring awareness to NormaLeah,” she added. “You see it and you go, ‘What is this about? What is this for?’”
As Kavensky said, partnering with 24 businesses will certainly help get the word out. And as far as fundraisers go, the Bodice Project speaks to Kavensky's — and NormaLeah's — style. She started the foundation in 2008 in honor of her mother, Norma Yecies Shagrin, and her aunt, Leah Yecies Hantman, who both died from ovarian cancer.
"My mother owned two pairs of tennis shoes in her life," Kavensky said. "We can do a race next year. This is our own approach."
“It’s really important to us in September that we have some sort of community involvement, and I feel it’s important to include an artistic component," she added. “This diseases is so ugly. That’s why incorporating the arts is so important.”