By Gaye Hyre, BCAction Member
My name is Gaye Hyre. I’ve been a BCAction member since meeting the staff at the U.S. Supreme Court, during arguments in the Myriad Genetics case in 2012.
Now I am writing to tell you about the extraordinary life and artwork of my dear friend and “courtesy aunt,” Edith Borax Morrison, whose art will be featured at BCAction’s upcoming event, Drawing the Connections.
Edith was my mother’s best friend for many years. When she called us 28 years ago with the news of her breast cancer diagnosis, my mom said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” Edith sailed through and went on with her life’s work, the art she called her “Mind Tangles.”
Then 11 years ago, Edith called with news of her recurrence. My mother had since died, so this time I said to her, “Don’t worry, I’ll help you like mom did. You’ll be OK.” But in one of those strange cosmic jokes, I was also diagnosed with breast cancer 2 weeks later. So we went through it together. We went to appointments and tests and scans together. We sat in infusion rooms together. And we got well together. And Edith went on with her art.
When Edith was diagnosed for the third time at the age of 92, she insisted that we bring her Bristol Board pads and her pens and pencils into the infusion room, where she created even while receiving chemo. And during that time Edith said one of the most amazing things I have ever heard: “When I’m in pain, I add a T, I paint.” She was turning her emotional pain into paint, into art.
I have donated two pieces of Edith’s work to Breast Cancer Action for the upcoming Drawing the Connections event, and I will tell you more about this remarkable story as one of the speakers at the opening night virtual gala on June 17th.
I hope you will join all of us at Drawing the Connections, and support Breast Cancer Action’s vision of a world where no one’s life is threatened or impacted by this disease.
Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you on the 17th.
Drawing the Connections
Opening Night Virtual Gala:
Thursday, June 17, 2021 at 5:30 pm PT / 7:30 pm CT / 8:30 pm ET
The 2 pieces of Edith’s work are expressions of her determination, both in life and towards breast cancer.
“Woman Enigma” speaks of her unraveling her emotions, to free the woman within from the entanglements of cancer. 22×27, black pen and ink, in plain black aluminum frame.
“Festival” shows the intricate connections that helped her triumph over her disease. 30×40, colored pen and inks, unframed but protected.
Edith died at age 93 of probable COVID-19, in March of 2020 after finishing treatment for her second recurrence of breast cancer. She worked making art until the end, even setting up a small easel in the infusion center, drawing while receiving chemo. She was an extraordinary spirit.
Edith Borax Morrison was Gaye Hyre’s inspiration for the founding of ArtBra New Haven, a non-profit that brings together patients, survivors, and their supporters with listed regional artists in a very unusual form of art therapy, creating works that express the person’s feelings about their experience of breast cancer. Going through their treatments together was a bonding experience like nothing else imaginable.
In addition to Gaye Hyre, Drawing the Connections will also feature three additional speakers who will share unique perspectives about art and social justice.
Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom. Prints of Favianna’s powerful piece, “Survivor Justice II,” will be available for purchase during the auction.
Oakland-based artist Christy Chan works primarily in video, installation, performance and oral storytelling. She is currently working on the multimedia storytelling and film project Pen Pals which has been featured on NPR’s Snap Judgement and in The New York Times. It tells the story of Shelly, an 8-year-old girl who writes idealistic letters to the Ku Klux Klan after the Klan targets her family.
And finally, we will close out the evening with a ceremony led by Caro Novella, performing artist, researcher and health activist trained in dance, improvisation, community health communication and performance art.