This is a piece of public art designed to raise awareness of prostate cancer in a playful and slightly shocking manner. The hand is posed as if ready to perform a gentle digital rectal examination on an unsuspecting member of the public who accidentally sits down on it.

Prostate cancer is a common and potentially very serious disease. In the USA, it's the second most common cause of cancer-related death among men. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to discuss it openly and even more reluctant to get tested for it. With this little installation, I'm hoping to at least get people thinking about it.

The sign reads:

Don't let prostate cancer catch you by surprise
1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
1 in 36 men will die from it.
If you're male and over 50, ask your doctor about testing.

So far, I've only made one of these sculptures and installed it in the city of San Francisco, CA. I'd be delighted if other people joined in and made their own sculptures in their own home towns. Let's get people talking about rectal exams!

For full instructions, read on.

A few thoughts on the wording of the sign

I wanted to choose a few key facts that would grab people's attention without overloading them with information. I intentionally chose not to say, "if you are n years old then you should get screened."

While prostate cancer is extremely common, it varies hugely in its severity and need of treatment. The benefits of widespread prostate cancer screening are unclear and controversial. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no evidence that indiscriminate screening leads to any reduction in mortality and it certainly leads to an increase in painful and expensive medical treatments which often later turn out to be unnecessary.

However, certain people are at more risk than others. If you have a strong family history of prostate cancer or have been suffering from any its symptoms and are between 40 and 70 you should consider getting tested. You should certainly have a discussion with your doctor about the merits of testing. The test consists of a simple blood test (prostate serum antigen or PSA*) and a socially awkward but usually painless rectal exam. It might not sound pleasant, but it could save your life. As many surgeons will tell you, "If you don't put your finger in it, you'll put your foot in it."

(*this whole art installation could be thought of as a PSA PSA)

Step 1: Materials

As this was just a one-off prototype, I decided to make the hand out of plaster poured into a disposable alginate mold. I originally planned to make the accompanying sign by printing onto and then laminating card, but at the last minute I came across a convenient laser cutter that let me make a much more official-looking acrylic sign.

For the hand sculpture:
  • Plaster of Paris (or, even better, hard plaster)
  • Dental alginate
  • Vinyl glove
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bag
  • Adhesive tape
  • White primer
  • Blue latex paint
  • Masking tape
  • Enamel varnish

For the accompanying sign:
  • White acrylic (1/8" thickness)
  • Blue paint

Also helpful:
  • Mixing bucket for alginate and plaster
  • Laser cutter
  • Fine sandpaper

<p>I'm very curious as to how long it stayed there. Was it eventually removed, or did it remain until it fell apart?</p>
<p>I bought a prostate massager. Tried it out for about 30 minutes and it didn't do anything for me.</p>
I will definately be doing this one. FANTASTIC!!! Where do I get the dental alginate, how much? Alginate online is kinda pricey. Is dental alginate different from the stuff slapped on a face for a life cast? Your little sculpture will impact many lives, from the potential male, to his family and friends...we all have a ripple-effect. Good job my friend!
Both amusing and serious, ...........genius <br><br>you should consider a career in advertising :)
wouldnt you have put it on the side facing the water where more people mit like to sit. great idea though. it is totally awesome and it can help people (men) to realise how deadly cancer is. and yes it could save some lives.
oh. my. god. best idea ever. i hope nobody sits on it though!
Great job. It's very clever and hopefully someone will benefit by it. Who knows, you might save some lives with this!
Thanks, Splazem, that's exactly the idea. There needs to be more integration between street art and public health.
the finger is supposed to be pointing at you and telling you to get checked right?
I'd have to say it points to the very core of your soul...
I've heard it said that the prostate is the seat of a man's soul.
I thought the finger isn't straight up because it's representing the prostate cancer... Art has many angles to it, it seems. This tutorial is impressive, I like this kind of street art.
That's more or less the idea ;-)
very creative. I really like your choice of where you installed it. Park bench .. BRILLIANT!!<br><br>
Thanks, Lorddrake. I was initially considering gluing it to a bus seat, but I thought that wouldn't really be appreciated during rush hour.
My dad is a prostate cancer survivor.... so for me, i am loving this!
Thanks, glad you like it :-)
THIS IS FANTASTIC<br><br>As a health educator, I give you an A+!
Thanks, Jessy!
Nicely done and placed! Let's just hope that no one sits on it though :-/
I'm sure most people's reflexes are brisk enough that they'll stop sitting down once they feel a rigid finger pointing into their buttocks.
This is fantastic, hope that we see a lot more popping up all over the place. One question - how to you think it would cope with the glorious british weather?
I think that a different material might be called for back home in the UK. Maybe concrete or something coated in latex. I'm hoping that the enamel varnish and the latex paint on my plaster hand will go some way to protecting it against the sea air in San Francisco, though.<br><br>Give it a try! Let me know how it turns out.
This is really great - not just the sculpture, but for the cause that it supports.
Cheers - let's give the finger to prostate cancer.
This is really awesome. I was shocked to see this didn't have any comments, so I had to tell you--you're awesome.
Thanks! It's nice to be appreciated :-)
great placement, nice work!

About This Instructable




Bio: Artist in Residence at Pier 9, currently exploring a vast array of new tools with which to injure myself.
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