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Jacqueline Firkins ’00MFA:
beauty and the cancer beast

Microscopic cell photography produces some stunningly beautiful images, akin to abstract art. Now Jacqueline Firkins ’00MFA has spun the comparison a step further, creating ball gowns inspired by pictures of cancer cells.

Firkins, a School of Drama graduate and costume designer, held a first exhibition of her project "Fashioning Cancer: The Correlation between Destruction and Beauty" on March 25 at the University of British Columbia, where she teaches.

"Many women who have battled cancer express a disconnect with the fashion imagery that commonly represents the disease"—such as the ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer—says an article on the UBC website. Firkins sought out "artistic imagery that is more connected to the disease itself."

She invites feedback.

“So far, the response has been joy and celebration, but I suspect some women will look at the dresses and say you’re just making it all too pretty, that ‘my reality with the disease was very uncomfortable, very ugly, very destructive,’” Firkins tells the Vancouver Sun. “So I want to create the kind of art that leaves it open to interpretation and response from the viewer.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Jacqueline Firkins, School of Drama, cancer, design
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