Artists honor family members who battled breast cancer

by Jordan Green


Lorrie Price, who manages the Elements Gallery on South Elm Street in Greensboro, has always wanted to contribute to the fight against breast cancer.

Her mother succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 51 after a 12-year battle. As Lorrie and her sisters each hit that milestone year, they breathed a sigh of relief that they have remained free of the disease. One of Price’s sisters, who was not particularly athletic, rode a bicycle across the country from San Diego, Calif. to St. Augustine, Fla. to honor their mother. The experience transformed her and led her to become a personal trainer.

“I knew I wasn’t going to ride my bike across the US,” Price said with a laugh, “so I had to do something.”

All of the artists at Elements, whose membership roster numbers upwards of 30, have contributed at least one piece to a silent-auction benefit to raise money for the mammography scholarships at Women’s Hospital. The artists adopted the name A Touch of Pink, reflecting the pink ribbon, which is an international symbol for breast-cancer awareness. The silent auction remains open through October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The final cutoff will be 6 p.m. on Oct. 31. A binder on the counter logs the bids.

“There’s already people who have said they’re going to be here at 5 p.m. to stake out the book,” Price said.

It turns out that virtually everyone who has contributed a piece to the benefit knows someone who has either survived breast cancer or succumbed to it.

Many of the pieces up for auction have a personal story attached. A gauzy scarf made by Jerry O’Donnell, who lost two sisters to breast cancer, is one example.

O’Donnell wrote that the item “symbolizes the trail, diagnosis, treatment, remissions and exacerbations of breast cancer as seen by myself through the journey ending in hospice care of two of my six sisters.” The strands of brown and green in the scarf, O’Donnell said, represent “the bruises of treatment and emotional impact,” which “fade with remission and recovery, and darken in the face of exacerbation. The faint pale areas are those of slipping hope, and the plush pink is its renewal and remission.

“The almost white areas are very personal,” he added, “as they symbolize the metastasis to the bone to which my sisters succumbed.”

Price said the artists at Elements decided to donate money for breast cancer screenings because early detection is critical to increasing the chances of survival. The scholarships will assist women who otherwise could not afford to pay for screenings.

Price, one of the youngest of nine children, was 3 years old when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When her mother found the lump, her doctor told her not to worry because it was only a swollen milk duct. A friend eventually persuaded her mother to get a second opinion. Women intuitively know when something’s wrong, Price said. An earlier diagnosis might have spared her mother the 12-year battle with breast cancer that eventually took her life.

When Price sees butterflies, she thinks of another sister, who was with her mother at the time of her death. When Price created a blue butterfly pattern on pottery by stamping it with a doily, it seemed a natural candidate for inclusion in the exhibit.

At the time of her mother’s death, an aunt took Price home.

Her sister stayed at the hospital when a priest administered last rites.

“My sister told me that the feeling going through her middle was so joyful,” Price said. “It was a feeling of elation. It was my mother’s spirit being released from a body that was wracked with pain for 12 years. When I think of release, I think of butterflies. They’re so light and airy.”


A Touch of Pink remains on exhibit at Elements Gallery, located at 526 S. Elm St. in Greensboro, through Oct. 31. Call 336.790.8703 for more information.