GirlspARTs Festival Promotes the Arts and Cancer Awareness

Abigail Johnson

The NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative is again preparing for its upcoming event: the GirlspARTs project and festival. The event will take place on Oct. 26 from 4-10p.m. at the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative in Rock Island.
This is the third year the event will take place. The festival will feature several live music acts, including ovarian cancer survivor and America’s Got Talent finalist Caley Bever and several local musicians. The festival will also showcase 24 different bodice pieces created by artists of the Quad Cities.
The NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer initiative was started in 2008 by Jodi Kavensky after her mother Norma, who passed away from ovarian cancer, begged her to be the voice for all women who suffered and are suffering from the cancer. According to Kavensky, NormaLeah provides “education about ovarian cancer to women who do not know anything about it and those who do. We also provide patient support.” By planning events such as the GirlspARTs festival, more people are made aware of the potential threat of ovarian and breast cancers.
Kavensky estimates that the event took about a year to plan. It is a two part event the first event being the bodices which are usually created in the spring and then, of course, the actual event. This year 24 bodices were sponsored by community leaders created by local artists. These pieces are created in spring and then are displayed from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the awareness months of ovarian and breast cancers. Augustana currently had a bodice on display in the library that was created by art professor Rowen Schussheim-Anderson.
Professor Rowen Schussheim-Anderson and her spring term 2019 Fiber Sculpture (Art 253) worked on two of 24 bodices. They are titled Thriver 1 and Thriver 2. Professor Schussheim-Anderson and the students worked on each bodice for about a month in class. Thriver 1 is a blue bodice for ovarian cancer awareness, and Thriver 2 is a pink bodice for breast cancer awareness.
The topic of breast and ovarian cancers is a personal one for professor Schussheim-Anderson. Schusshiem-Anderson states, “my sister is a cancer survivor, and they told them that they are not survivors, they are thrivers. So we use the word thrive and try to get the energy of doing well and not just surviving but really being able to come out of the situation with a real positive upbeat, not just getting by view on life.”
This upbeat and bright attitude that professor Schusshiem-Anderson speaks of is clearly reflected in the classes bodices. Thriver 1 was sponsored by Augustana’s president and his wife Steve and Jane Bahls, and was the bodice which was displayed in Augustana’s library for the month of September. All 24 bodice pieces around the Quad Cities will be available to be seen at the event and will be available for auction online after the event.
The GirlspARTs project and festival combines appreciation for the arts and raising awareness for cancer. Kavensky invites the public to attend this event as it is “a chance to celebrate the arts and celebrate life for women who are living or have been diagnosed with not only ovarian cancer but breast cancer and other cancers a well.”
Admission to the event is $10 for the public. Survivors of ovarian cancer will be able to get in free of charge.