Beaded Bras

By Samara Kaufman (Chicago, USA)

“I have not had breast cancer, though I do have a family history, and decades ago, my mom had a biopsy for a benign tumor. In 2008, I was asked to create a bra for a breast cancer awareness competition. Once I completed that bra, I decided I would make a series of them with the hopes that one day I will publish all the pieces into a book and sell them off to raise money for breast cancer. The question is when I’ll decide I have “enough”. People keep giving me their old bras and there’s always something new to create (I am currently incorporating a COVID theme).  I usually submit them to art shows that have a healing theme. I live in Chicago and there were a few years that a hospital would collect pieces to have on display.

I’ve specifically created three bras for three people :

Janet – my former Girl Scout leader who initially thought she beat breast cancer, but it returned and she died shortly thereafter.

Lisa – my mother’s best friend and someone who has known me since I was 4 had a very aggressive form of breast cancer, but beat it and is still going strong almost 5 years later.

Elizabeth (Bye Bye Boobie) – was a former coworker who hid her diagnosis from everyone. She started wearing a scarf over her head, she said, as a fashion statement. Eventually she couldn’t hide it from the team anymore, especially when she had her intensive chemo treatments that forced her to leave work. She lost one of her breasts to cancer and it was her idea to do a pun off of Bye Bye Birdie.”

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