Crowns of Courage: The beauty cancer can't take away

This piece took more than nine months to create.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The tattoo may be temporary but the impact is permanent.

Amanda Gilbert has been creating henna tattoos for eight years, "When they first sit down in the chair it's almost kind of somber a bit and then we start asking them questions because we want the crown to be about them. " A crown of courage representing each woman's battle with cancer.

Becky Richard explains her crown design, "I chose a tree because I really felt like the people that loved me were coming around me and holding me up."

Amanda and her boyfriend Steve Stone have been creating Crowns of Courage for 9 months to help women fighting cancer discover their inner beauty.

Their partner, photographer David Burgess, photographs them.

The collaboration David explains, became their ArtPrize entry Crowns of Courage, “We have these women come in and they are battered, they don't have any hair and they're in a real vulnerable spot."

Until the moment their crown of courage is revealed and their photo shoot begins.

For each of these photo sessions we did about 200-300 images for each woman." David explains it’s because he wants to capture the perfect image.

Which is exactly what he did for Becky struggling through tears as she looks at her portrait, “It’s really how I felt inside. Somewhere deep in there, it was just lost." Becky's tears are shared among the other women and one young girl.

"Tessa had Neuroblastoma." Amanda describes Tessa’s portrait as a representation of the fight you sometimes, don't win.

"And we lost her maybe like a month after that. So, I’m really happy that she could be a part of the project." Amanda says through tears.

Twenty-two Crowns of Courage -- displayed for everyone to see at the DeVos Place on the second floor. The artists plan to create a live crown of courage this Friday, Sept. 29.

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