breast cancer-inspired art
Breast Cancer,  Creative,  Female Identity,  Lifestyle

Breast cancer-inspired artists I admire

I adore art and dabble in watercolours. I feel a peace when I paint. That said, I have struggled to pick a brush back up since my diagnosis. I hope that part of me returns soon. In the meantime, while I wait for my muse to reveal itself again, I can admire the work of other breast cancer-inspired artists, who do beautiful and in some cases highly meaningful work. 

Amy Leigh Ceramics

I recently discovered the work of Amy Leigh Ceramics when I popped into a local area craft shop and spied this little beauty with her 22-karat gold dipped nipples on an upper shelf. It’s the world of Amy Klinkhamer a Canadian ceramicist. Amy’s work has a delicate, organic style, but clearly with a dash of fun thrown into the mix. 

Her mission is to make beautiful, handcrafted pieces of art that are unique and one-of-a kind, while also being completely functional for everyday use

Amy started making her gold-nippled boob mugs years ago. They come in different shapes, sizes and colours created in the hope of promoting body positivity, inclusion and diversity. 

She has worked closely with a number of women currently fighting breast cancer, or breast cancer survivors who wanted an individualized or custom-made boob mug reflective of themselves. I think I might be adding to my collection very soon. She absolutely puts a smile on my face when I have my morning tea. 

Esther Slevinsky

I was very recently introduced to the work of acrylic artist Esther Slevinsky by another artist friend of mine. It struck him we had a lot in common. And we do indeed, including a love of food, and unfortunately.  a breast cancer diagnosis. 

Esther Slevinsky is an acrylic painter based in Waterloo, Ontario. In 2006, she graduated from ACAD (Alberta University for the Arts) with a BDes in Graphic Design and Illustration. She worked as a mural artist on commercial and residential projects for almost two decades before transitioning to painting on canvas in 2018. 

In January 2022, Esther received a microgrant from Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, with the City of Waterloo and KWCF for the research and creation of her installation Chips and Cancer. The same piece later received an exhibition grant as part of the CAKFA.23 Biennial Exhibition, Stay with Me.

Chips and Cancer is a visual timeline of Esther’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2020-21 told through a Bayesian Tapestry scale painting. Breast cancer is an isolating and lonely diagnosis at the best of times, But for Esther, diagnosed at the start of the pandemic, it was even more so. She had to attend all appointments and treatments alone. 

On her website Esther has this to say about her work. “The piece gives friends and family access to my experience since they were not able to attend in person then. Through shared experiences we create deeper connection, greater compassion, and better awareness. My hope is that Chips and Cancer will impress on people the importance of self-exam and advocating for their own health. Cancer is traumatic and uncertain, but open conversation can improve awareness and encourage communities to lean into this uncomfortable yet all too common topic.”’

Meytal Blanaru

It’s not often I am asked to provide input and inspiration into a dancer’s choreography, but earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Belgium-based Meytal Blanaru, whose performance entitled Dark Horse, is an emotional piece of solo work inspired by Meytal’s diagnosis as BRCA positive, her sister’s diagnosis with breast cancer and the prospect of someday losing her breasts. When that time comes, Meytal has decided she will likely remain flat. I loved her curiosity and deep spirituality. Dark Horse premiered in March at Theatres des Brigattines

Hilary Gauld

My incredible friend, photographer Hilary Gauld and fellow co-producer of the I Want You to Know photo essay, was the first artist I turned to after my diagnosis. In the early stages of body acceptance post-mastectomy, and bald and stripped physically and emotionally bare from chemotherapy, I asked Hilary to photograph me to document this moment in time. The images are starkly beautiful and empowering. Hilary’s kind heart and lens saw into my soul and gave me everything I needed to find and love the new me. 

Miranda Wickett

And last but not least is artist, dancer and choreographer Miranda Wickett. Inspired to build a more body-positive world for her young daughter Mimi is on a mission to help people feel a little bit of joy & confidence in themselves. 

Her bespoke chest sculptures of women’s breasts and torsos help women celebrate and accept their beautiful bodies in their most natural form. Mimi’s exhibition, entitled 40 Strong, This, from Mimi’s website: 

“40 Strong” delves into the intimate narratives of 40 women, aged 22 to 87, through the medium of chest sculptures. Each piece stands as a testament to the individual and collective experiences of women navigating through complex societal structures – patriarchal, colonial, medical, and capitalist. This exhibition is not just an artistic endeavor; it’s a call for conversation and reflection on how women perceive themselves and are perceived by others as they experience the natural progression of aging.

The work challenges the audience to reconsider the expectations placed upon women’s bodies and the insidious ways in which social media, film, television, and an often broken medical and research system contribute to these perceptions. The sculptures tell stories of struggle, resilience, and the relentless pressure women face to embody a multifaceted existence, even as they are praised and criticized for every action.

In a society where authenticity is a battleground, “40 Strong” invites you to witness the profound beauty and expression of a woman’s form, unfiltered and unapologetic. Attendees can expect an art show that celebrates the experience of being a woman in our truest form, fostering a deeper understanding of the collective and individual journeys of women.

As someone who surrendered her breasts to disease, but not at the expense of my feminity, I find the work of all these women touching, profound and incredibly beautiful.

Ellyn Winters-Robinson is a breast cancer survivor, entrepreneur, author, in-demand speaker, women’s health advocate, professional communicator and a globally recognized health rebel. Ellyn's best-selling book "Flat Please Hold the Shame," is a girlfriend’s companion guide for those on the breast cancer journey. She is also the co-creator of, the world’s first conversational AI companion for those on the breast cancer journey. With Dense Breasts Canada and award-winning photographer Hilary Gauld, Ellyn also co-produced I WANT YOU TO KNOW, a celebrated photo essay showing the diverse faces and stories of 31 individuals on the breast cancer journey. Ellyn’s story and have been featured in People Magazine, Chatelaine Magazine, the Globe and Mail, CTV National News and Your Morning, and Fast Company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *