By Rachel M.
It’s A Thing, a new campaigning organization, founded by Nicola Stephenson, cancer survivor and president of New York-based brand identity and communications agency Troika-Mission Group, focuses on changing perceptions and raising funds for head and neck cancer. They are currently hosting a unique exhibit curated by world-famous graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash. Hosted by RXR Realty in the iconic Starrett-Lehigh building on West 26th Street, this event benefits cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).
Each year, an estimated 60,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer in the United States — that’s more than HIV, motor neuron disease and multiple sclerosis combined– yet 185 million Americans have little to no knowledge of this disease. It’s A Thing is on a mission to tell people everywhere that head and neck cancer really is a thing. The organization hopes to ensure earlier diagnosis to improve the chances of better outcomes.
The installation spans two floors, with a carefully curated gallery of original pieces of modern art on the ground floor, and an interactive experience and retail space within the thirteenth floor. Each custom work of art was created exclusively for the occasion. One room on the 13th floor pays homage to and celebrates the vital functions made possible by the head and neck, like the use of typewriters and rotary phones. Half of the space is filled with The Gumball Experience, large colored balls of different sizes that you can sit on or move around. Patients with head or neck cancer might not be able to blow bubbles or chew gum. The second room houses thousands of objects (i.e., old phones, cameras, paint brushes, books) arranged in interesting ways. The whole exhibit exudes a vibrancy that Mr. Brainwash thinks all our lives should have.
The display is open through November 14th at 601 West 26th Street. The first floor gallery is open daily, but the 13th floor is only open Friday- Sunday. To learn more about It’s A Thing or participate in the auction, visit www.ItsAThing.org. A selection of the artwork is available for purchase through an auction hosted on the site, with net proceeds donated to MSK at the close of the experience.