Out of all the health threats we face every day, cancer is definitely one of the scariest — and one of the hardest to understand. Annually, the disease claims about 585,000 lives each year, with 1.6 million new cases in this country alone; these numbers are increasing all the time. Maybe more importantly, the overwhelming diversity of the disease, as well as the insidious way it strikes — as a mutation in the DNA of a single healthy cell causes it to replicate at an uncontrollable rate — make it as difficult to understand as it is to treat.
A new project by Jacqueline Firkins, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, aims to provide us with a new way to look at this devastating, and confusing, disease. Using images of cancerous cells and tissue as her inspiration, Firkins created a line of 10 ball gowns, which will be exhibited at UBC on March 25 in an exhibition called "Fashioning Cancer: The Correlation between Destruction and Beauty." Firkins says that the concept of the project was to encourage a new kind of discussion about "a disease we are all one step removed from." As she writes on the project's website, "My hope is that somehow through fashion, I more closely tap into what a woman might be feeling about her body as she undergoes the disease, but simultaneously reflect a strength, beauty, and resilience."