Prescott artist Paula Burr couldn't help but to gawk at her own breasts.

"Yeah, I stared at them for a long time," the 26-year-old photographer admits. "I was just like, 'Wow, those are my boobs.'"

There they were, in a plaster cast mold, just waiting for some attention after Burr had traveled to Phoenix in May to be part of the "Keep A Breast" traveling art auction, which comes to the Phoenix Art Museum on Saturday, October 9. Burr volunteered herself for a plaster molding -- cast by "Keep A Breast" co-chair Carol Martori -- and returned to Prescott the same day with her bust in tow.

Once she'd finished ogling herself, Burr and a friend, painter Jami Harper, primed the cast's surface by sanding it down, and then developed a theme for the bust, one of 80 plaster cast busts to be auctioned at the PAM fund raiser to benefit the Arizona Institute for Breast Health. Other participants include Valley artists Rachel Bess, Ruth Davis, Beatrice Moore, Robert Miley and Janet de Berge Lange.

"We had a really hard time trying to decide on a theme, but we ended up painting a kind of utopian underwater scene, with koi fish and mermaids. . . . There's a nautical sign also," she says. "A lot of people enjoy looking at fish; they're comforting. They can go any direction they want no matter what's happening, and I think that's important for women with breast cancer to remember. These people have all these horrible tragedies, but they choose to fight. They find the sunshine."

The "Keep A Breast" campaign was launched in 2000 and raises funds for breast cancer research and awareness by traveling to cities around the world, including Munich, Germany, and Biarritz, France. The campaign has raised more than $100,000 for local breast cancer charities.

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Joe Watson