Local photographers aim to bring together the straight, LGBT communities through art
“I’ve seen more breasts in my four years than most straight guys could hope to see in a lifetime,” says Susan Buzzi, a 52-year-old freelance photographer from Davie.
Having the opportunity to see breasts, however, is less a matter of play and more a necessity.
It’s her job.
To date, she’s photographed more than 200 women through numerous stages of their battles with cancer.
For three of her past four years, Buzzi was contracted by the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation and her fourth year was spent working directly with Broward General Hospital.
One of her subjects, Bernadette Zizzo, was recently featured in a South Florida Gay News article chronicling her battle with breast cancer.
“Susan was so supportive through the process,” Zizzo says. “Having her there just reinforced the fact that there are not only supporters of the gay community, but artists who can help spread the word about this disease, the communities it affects and helps us all [breast cancer victims] receive some sort of recognition in far reaching outlets.”
Buzzi says that though most of her subjects are assigned to her, Zizzo was a most pleasant surprise.
“Her attitude was so positive and she had a radiance about her that I seldom see,” Buzzi says. “She knew she was going to make it, and without even taking a picture, I knew that she had the fighting spirit that it takes to beat breast cancer.”
And beat it she did. After a double mastectomy, breast implantation and their subsequent removal due to infection, Zizzo is still in the recovery process.
In the meantime, Buzzi is staying focused on her work.
The next project in which she is intimately involved is slated for 11-11-11 and is being dubbed the “Oneness Event.”
“The way the event came together was really organic. 11-11-11 doesn’t come around very much, and the organizers thought it appropriate that some sort of event be put together that would play deeper in to the significance of the date,” she says. “On the surface, it’s just another date. But when you look further, Oneness is about solidarity. It’s about every “one” coming together.”
The event, which will be held at The Bubble, 810 NE Fourth Ave., will run from 6 p.m. to midnight and feature a bevy of art from local artists across all genres. It will also include interpretive dance exhibitions, improvised music from local bands and give individuals the opportunity to participate in the construction of an artistic mural, which they will all have a hand in.
Valyn Calhoun, a 28-year-old gay artist and designer from Wilton Manors, will also have an exhibit on hand at the event and stresses that the importance of “Oneness” far transcends its billing as an art-centric event.
“There is a lot of unrest and uneasiness that I’d attribute to a collective change in consciousness and this is about bringing all these collective ideas in to one,” he says. “The event is not only gay friendly, but idea friendly. We want to help bring these voices of unrest together and show them they are not alone and show that we’ve taken the first step in acknowledging the disconnect and attempting to repair it – at least on the local level.”
He and Buzzi are also conducting local outreach in attempts to bridge the gaps, which they see as hindrances in getting people to unify.
One of the communities Calhoun is focused on is downtown Fort Lauderdale – and for good reason as far as he sees it.
“I go to Fort Lauderdale and hand out fliers because there is not a lot of support between our neighboring communities as there should be,” he says. “To get as many straight people involved as possible and let them know that we feel their pain, gay or not, is what this is all about.”
He adds, “Without mutual understanding of the issues we face, and how we can best start a dialogue on them, we will stay a disorganized group of people on the macro level who all have issues, but have not come together sufficiently to help move forward in addressing them.”
For both Buzzi and Calhoun, the goal is simple: use art to help draw people from different communities to an event where they are all welcome — where their opinions matter. And where being gay or straight takes a back seat to being together as people.