NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – California-based artist, Shaney Jo Darden, is the creative mind behind the exhibit. She started the organization, “Keep a Breast,” 20 years ago when her friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Obviously, it was something that was so shocking at a young age,” said Darden. “So, I just grabbed all my friends together and started making these beautiful plaster busts that you see here. I created one event 20 years ago just to help one person.”
Since its inception, Darden said she’s cast more than a thousand women all over the world. She chose Nashville specifically for the 20-year anniversary of her organization. “The response has been incredible. We cast 86 women here in Nashville and these casts are painted by artists all over the US, even international. And we have a large representation of artists here in Nashville,” she said. “These artists are contemporary artists, modern artist, street artists and then we even have some glass artists.”
Darden said making these casts started as a way to honor her friend, but it turned into so much more. “I come from a creative background, I’m an artist and a fashion designer, and I wanted to do something to educate my peers about breast cancer awareness and prevention. For me, the best way to do something and the best way to communicate is through art. Through art you can express complicated emotions, and feelings in ways you just can’t with other types of communication,” said Darden.
As for the women she chose to cast in Nashville, Darden said she enlisted the help of a friend who lives here to choose women of all backgrounds. “We have musicians, we have philanthropists, we have models, we have chefs, we have moms, we have small business owners,” says Darden. “It’s a beautiful collection of women here in Nashville who all volunteered to be cast and the artists all volunteered to paint the casts.”
“I’ve casted many cancer survivors, and you know as women we don’t talk about our breasts and our bodies, and when I’m casting these women, most of them are meeting me for the first time, naked in a room, getting plastered by a stranger. It is really powerful to look at your own body and see it as a work of art.”
Darden also created an app called “Keep A Breast,” that’s free to download and aims to help prevent breast cancer. “This app is really your ‘breast’ bud, it shows you how to do your self-check, it will help you set a reminder every month to do your self-check, and there’s education in there, there’s information about breast health, there’s survivor stories and if you do find something, if you do find something, you can connect with our partners Carbon Health for a virtual care appointment within a little as 10 minutes to talk about it,” said Darden.
The exhibit is open to the public from 11:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily with free admission at Riverside Revival, 1600 Riverside Drive Nashville TN 37216 until October 31.
The auction is open until October 28 and (all the money raised goes to support the education programs for Keep A Breast and the KAB Give Back Grants that directly support BIPOC breast cancer survivors in Tennessee. For more information you can visit their website by clicking here.