Michelle Farnsworth
 

As the daughter of a lingerie designer for Hollywood Vassarette in the 1950s, Meg Spielman Peldo grew up with bras in the family. The Fargo-based photographer created her first whimsical bra for a breast cancer benefit called Bras on Broadway. After cobbling together copper wire, grasses and a little bird stolen from a Christmas ornament, she came up with the wearable "Breast Nest." Her photographs of found-object bras have been compiled in the book "No Lumps, Thank You."

How do people react once they see your photos?

The response to the artwork over the years has been so fun! That's why I decided to create a book of the artwork. People are excited when they see the book in person, it's much nicer when you can hold the images and feel the paper. I am very pleased with the quality of the finished book and my publisher Schiffer Books in Pennsylvania.

Your background as a photographer obviously gave you the skills and creative mind to do such a project, but what really propelled you forward in making it a reality?

I have been creating art with objects for many years and the bras grew out of that when I began creating them for Bras on Broadway, a local breast cancer event that raises money to help patients with travel expenses during treatment. In a rural state, patients travel long distances for treatment.

Did you or anyone in your life battle breast cancer?

Everyone is touched by someone who has dealt with the disease. It's so prevalent. A friend and studio mate recently underwent a double mastectomy at age 25 as a BRCA1 gene carrier with a very deadly family history. We all worry about our loved ones and ourselves getting that diagnosis.

Your mother was a lingerie designer for Hollywood Vassarette in the 1950s. Did her job have an impact on the book project?

I think there's a little bit of a lingerie gene in our family. My mother was a lingerie designer before I was born, I've been working one the bras for 7 years now, and my niece, a fashion design student in New York, recently designed one of the Pink costumes for the Victoria Secret TV Fashion Show last fall. I am so fortunate to have grown up in a creative family with artists on both sides. Mom's creativity, passion and independence has always influenced me and continues to inspire me even though she's gone. We talked about doing some bras together, but never got around to that. I'll probably create one from some unfinished painting of hers someday.

What made you decide to partner with the Embrace Cancer Survivorship Program and Sanford Health to do a special edition of the coffee table art book?

When I told Dr. (Shelby) Terstriep, oncologist at Roger Maris Cancer Center, I was doing a coffee table book of the art bras, she thought it would be perfect to combine the images with funny and uplifting stories from breast cancer survivors. Everyone has crazy things that occur during this journey, and they just have to laugh. Patients want to feel normal and have fun, so we thought we could share some laughter with this special edition book and help fund the survivorship program. All of the proceeds from the special edition will go to the embrace program, but both books are fundraising tools for other charities as well. A charity group can order the books, sell them at their event, return any that don't sell and keep the profits. If they get a corporate sponsor to pay for the wholesale cost of them, they keep 100 percent.

Every October we see many different breast cancer awareness and fundraising activities throughout the world. Your book is so unique and steps up the creativity factor. How do you feel about creating such a powerful piece of art and fundraising tool all in one?

Thank you, I'm excited about the exhibition of the art and the book. I've been working on the book for 4 years, so it's very satisfying to see it launch. There are several ways it can be used. They make great gifts and donate to cancer patient support, which is so important. Treatments are physically and emotionally difficult on the whole family. If we can make people laugh, help them with the things they need and spread awareness, then we have succeeded beyond our dreams. The feedback has been absolutely amazing.

For more information about Meg Spielman Peldo's artwork and book, "No Lumps, Thank You," go to www.nolumpsthankyou.com or www.brasonbroadway.com. Her artwork is on traveling exhibition with the North Dakota Art Gallery Association through July 2013.



 
Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.