When the small group of art students gathered around their painting, paints and tools in hand, a mutual understanding hung in the air among them.
They’re not just students at Corinth Elementary. They each know what it feels like to watch their mother battle breast cancer. Their teacher, Kim Bogart, floated around giving instructions on the artwork, which will be submitted as an auction item for Bra Couture KC’s fashion show and auction next month.
For the project, the students used paint brushes, forks, toothbrushes, hairdryers and even their hands, while spreading and forming the various colors and abstract images in the painting. While working together on the painting, conversation was casual — even when they talked about their mothers’ mastectomies and chemotherapy — because it was their new normal.
Stacy Schelck, a Bra Couture model and survivor of breast cancer, asked Bogart to see if she would submit a painting for the auction. That’s when Bogart tasked these students so they could participate in Bra Couture’s auction. The project is also a way for them to express themselves on a canvas.
Evelyn DeSalvo, a fourth grader at Corinth whose mother, Shannon DeSalvo, is near the end of her treatment for breast cancer, said she felt like she was able to really express herself in the project.
“I really liked how you could just blend colors together and scribble; it’s fun using all the different kinds of tools,” she said.
When DeSalvo’s mother went through multiple surgeries during her cancer, she was worried. But now, she’s not too worried anymore.
“My mom’s gone through a lot of things; she had four knee surgeries prior to this,” DeSalvo said. “I feel great that I have a mother that knows what it’s like to have some different challenges in her life.”
The project took on special meaning for the Corinth art teacher, who also knows many women in her life who have fought breast cancer.
“We have just had a lot of families at Corinth who have been affected by it,” Bogart said. “I think it’s better if the kids do it.”
Anastasia Flower, a fourth grader at Corinth whose mother, Victoria Flower, is going through reconstructive surgery for breast cancer, said the project helped her and her classmates band together in support of Bra Couture’s mission.
“It means a lot to me because my mom’s survived; I’m just really grateful that she did,” Flower said, adding that she’s proud of her mother for fighting cancer. “She didn’t stop fighting, she kept going.”
Beth Pitts, a Corinth Elementary parent who is living with breast cancer, watched as her son, Noah Pitts, a second-grader, participated in the project as well.
“I think it’s really sweet; I think it’s a great idea and it’s really neat how it’s turning out,” Pitts said.
Among the students was fifth-grader Tatum Anderson, whose mother Brooke Latas was previously a model for Bra Couture, so the project took on significant meaning for their family.
“I just thought it’s a really touching idea that Kim had to just involve these kids and involve us moms a little bit as well,” Latas said. “These kids and the moms too, and the families, just share an underlying cord of struggle and hardship and just a season of life that probably involved a lot of wrestling and was really hard. So it’s neat to see these kids together get to have conversations with other kids who get it.”
Seven Corinth families participated in the painting: Bean, O’Neil, DeSalvo, Anderson (Latas), Flower, Benditt and Pitts. The artwork will be featured at the Bra Couture KC Fashion Show & Auction 2019 on April 12 at the TWA Museum, Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Missouri.