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Breasts Immortalized Via Adams Art Project

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Don't be alarmed if one night at dinner you reach for the salt shaker and find a breast in its place.

About 20 women and men volunteered yesterday to have their breasts cast for an art project designed to incorporate the body into daily life.

The "Breast Project" is the creation of Adams House artist-in-residence and tutor Janet S. Echelman '87.

The breast casting is part of Echelman's "Topography of Nurturance" project, an exploration of the body and its relation to architecture and culture.

Volunteers at the Apthorp Room in Adams House placed their breasts in a bowl of gelatin for about three minutes, creating a mold. Colored Vatican stone was then poured into the gelatin molds.

Echelman said she plans to make sturdier plaster molds from the casts. She said she will use the plaster molds to create wax, fired ceramic and latex rubber casts.

Installations of the project will appear in Adams House later this spring and next fall, Echelman said. The first installation will be called "Breast Plates."

"I hope it makes people think," Echelman said of her project.

Casting had begun during Arts First weekend but continued through yesterday with improved techniques.

"We have learned a lot in the last few weeks," Echelman said.

She said that because the plaster she used several weeks ago was not sensitive enough, she switched to gelatin, which "gets every pore and follicle."

One volunteer, Heather A. Franek, a student at the Graduate School of Education, described the casting experience as "very cold...smooth. It's almost like a face mask."

Franek and her friend Elizabeth Barner, who came in together to have casts made, both said they thought the project seemed to celebrate breasts and bodies.

They said they particularly liked the fact that both men and women were included.

"It feels like it's bringing women and men together to celebrate bodies," Franek said.

Jamie Ciocco '94, a non-resident tutor in Adams House, also volunteered to have his breast cast.

"Part of what I saw in the project was an objectification of the body," he said. "We generally consider that to be a female thing. It would make a stronger statement if we had some male breasts in there as well."

Echelman said another important aspect of the project was that women were casting their own breasts, as opposed to men usually depicting breasts in art.

She said that the breast means different things to different people.

"There are multiple associations with the breast," she added.

Allison L. Unruh '97, one of Echelman's research assistants, said that some of the historical meanings of the breast in art have been nurturing, charity and sexuality.

Echelman said Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse, two American sculptors, were artistic inspirations for the breast project.

Echelman's project was funded by the Office for the Arts, Adams House and the Radcliffe College Research Partnership

"We have learned a lot in the last few weeks," Echelman said.

She said that because the plaster she used several weeks ago was not sensitive enough, she switched to gelatin, which "gets every pore and follicle."

One volunteer, Heather A. Franek, a student at the Graduate School of Education, described the casting experience as "very cold...smooth. It's almost like a face mask."

Franek and her friend Elizabeth Barner, who came in together to have casts made, both said they thought the project seemed to celebrate breasts and bodies.

They said they particularly liked the fact that both men and women were included.

"It feels like it's bringing women and men together to celebrate bodies," Franek said.

Jamie Ciocco '94, a non-resident tutor in Adams House, also volunteered to have his breast cast.

"Part of what I saw in the project was an objectification of the body," he said. "We generally consider that to be a female thing. It would make a stronger statement if we had some male breasts in there as well."

Echelman said another important aspect of the project was that women were casting their own breasts, as opposed to men usually depicting breasts in art.

She said that the breast means different things to different people.

"There are multiple associations with the breast," she added.

Allison L. Unruh '97, one of Echelman's research assistants, said that some of the historical meanings of the breast in art have been nurturing, charity and sexuality.

Echelman said Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse, two American sculptors, were artistic inspirations for the breast project.

Echelman's project was funded by the Office for the Arts, Adams House and the Radcliffe College Research Partnership

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