Sea Cliff resident Louise Sharakan was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago. The fabric artist learned to her dismay that the dyes she had been using to create her art could have been the cause of it.
It broke her heart to have to choose between her health and her art, Sharakan said, so she learned how to keep her artistic skills alive – and put them toward a good cause.
Though she could no longer dye the silks, she used the ones she had already finished to create something entirely different. Using the cloth, Sharakan would create mandalas, Tibetan symbols meaning “circle” and representing sacred art.
“It was a healing process for me,” Sharakan said. “It became a wonderful outlet for me and my artwork.”
Sharakan also moved on to making beaded jewelry. Still, the art of fabric design for clothing was something she could never stray away from entirely.
She learned about Creative Cups through the community she had developed with fellow breast cancer survivors.
Creative Cups is a project in which people design intricate and creative bras to be sold at a silent auction to raise money for Adelphi University's statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program.
Sharakan entered a bra in the auction for the first time in 2009, a clock-style piece with minute hands on each breast to encourage women to get checked regularly.
“I was thrilled to do it,” she said. “It was one of the most difficult projects I’ve taken on.”
Sharakan said she fell so in love with what she created that she outbid everyone else at the silent auction just to win it back.
“Though this year I plan on letting whoever bids on it keep it,” she said with a laugh.
And this certainly isn’t the first time Sharakan’s art has been on display since her diagnosis. She currently has a small art show at the Sea Cliff Village Library and has four pieces in Rutgers University’s permanent collection.
Her battle with breast cancer has been a life changing experience, Sharakan said. And though times have been hard at points, she’s never given up her love of art.
“It just shows that even though something terrible happens, something good can still come out of it,” she said.