Reconstructing Aphrodite Order Reconstructing Aphrodite

From the Book
I undertook this project, Reconstructing Aphrodite, when my dear friend Jo, one of the women pictured on these pages, was diagnosed with the dreaded breast cancer a few years ago. In trying to wade through the millions of decisions surrounding treatments and a course of action, including whether or not to opt for reconstruction, she found nothing to look at that was in any way helpful or hopeful. Just medical mug shots which were way too scary. But she chose the path of reconstruction after tons of thought and research, and as she was recovering insisted that this was a photo project that women needed and that I should give it a go.

Am I a photographer with a specialty in nudes? Why, no. But I was introduced to Jo's surgeon, Dr. Loren Eskenazi, an artist and a doctor and we took off down this path together. What a journey!

Here are twenty-one remarkable women ranging in age from 27 to 78, willing to share their stories and a look at their reconstructed bodies. I learned so much from making these photographs. The strength and resolve and humor from each of these women inspired me every step of the way.


Jo From the moment of their first appearance, my breasts were a big deal. They grew fast and large, brought me not always unwanted attention, and sometimes got me in trouble. Through my teens and twenties, I saw myself as a liberated intellectual bohemian. Prominent breasts didn't figure into this image. Ambivalent, I flaunted them when I thought they'd give me a leg up, minimized them the rest of the time. Prior to my diagnosis with breast cancer, I gradually became prepared to expect its likelihood.

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Marti In 1991, I went for a routine mammogram after being told that a radiologist found a lump, even though it couldn't be detected by touch. A referral was set up for me to see a cardiovascular surgeon. He performed a biopsy and it was confirmed - I had in-situ cancer in my right breast. A lumpectomy was performed the next month, which was successful in getting all of the cancer.

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Georgia Ann From the moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a possible mastectomy, I knew I wanted reconstruction. This response was out of my own sense of art, symmetry, and aesthetic. It was the same response I would have to a tooth extraction or the loss of any body part. It speaks of how I approach an environment that to me is visually out-of-balance.

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