A Photo Exhibit About Skin Cancer Prevention Is A Call To Action That Honours Its Late Visionary

In my last year of high school, my friends and I planned a trip to Mexico. In typical teen fashion, we didn’t fear the sun—we sought it out. After a long winter, we hit the beach with one goal: to return from Spring Break with the best souvenir—a beautiful tan. I returned with the opposite: a sunburn, and one particularly bad patch on my chest that developed a scab. I think about that burn a lot, and regularly check my moles to keep tabs on what’s happening with my skin. That’s in large part due to my job: as someone who writes about topics like skincare, I often speak with dermatologists who routinely talk about risk of skin cancer from sun exposure, the importance of monitoring our skin, and how it’s imperative that we wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.

But for many, these messages are getting missed—or being tuned out. Especially by teens and twenty-somethings, the group with a greater risk of developing melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can be deadly, but has a high survival rate if it’s caught early. In fact, according to the Melanoma Network of Canada, melanoma is one of the most common cancer types found in young adults aged 15-29, the leading cause being overexposure to the sun’s UV rays or artificial sources like tanning beds.

Raising more awareness around the importance of skin cancer prevention is the goal behind skinwork, a photography exhibition opening today featuring beautiful images of 60 Canadian women, each of whom have a special connection to the cause. The photograph collection captures different aspects of the female form, encouraging women to know their bodies and the potential signs of skin cancer.

Skinwork was conceived by photographer Bettina Bogar, with her friend Heather Mundle, who had experienced melanoma personally earlier in her life and wanted to share her story. Tragically, Heather’s cancer returned, and she died of complications from metastatic melanoma last fall, shortly after starting the project. She was just 29 years old. “Heather was so passionate about skinwork and making it something bigger than us—we are seeing the vision she had through, and then some. We want to honour her life and her goal by doing as much as we can to encourage everyone to be aware of their skin’s health,” says Bogar.

The skinwork exhibition is free to the public and will run from March 5-16, 2019 at Artscape Youngplace. There is also a special event on International Women’s Day (March 8), which will include a panel discussion featuring one of the exhibition’s subjects, dermatologist Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, and screenings of some of behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot. Visitors will also be able to purchase prints of the skinwork images with proceeds going to the Melanoma Network of Canada.