GOLD HILL — Charlie Slaughter left Portland almost a dozen years ago, but the 38-year-old artist is making a trek back this week to honor the wife he lost to breast cancer there.

GOLD HILL — Charlie Slaughter left Portland almost a dozen years ago, but the 38-year-old artist is making a trek back this week to honor the wife he lost to breast cancer there.

Slaughter, who maintains a studio on the Rogue between Gold Hill and Rogue River, will unveil a statue in Portland called "Her Life?" The sculpture, taller than most men, depicts a stylized pink ribbon morphing into an angel with a pink, hand-painted, lace-like coating and white wings.

The artwork will be auctioned at an event hosted by Breast Friends, a Portland-based organization that supports women with breast cancer, and the proceeds will go toward breast-cancer research.

Becky Olson, co-founder of Breast Friends, called Slaughter's sculpture "breathtaking."

"When he called our office to see if we were interested in having the main one as a donation for our event, we were so excited," Olson said. "When I saw the picture, I was absolutely in awe. I can just visualize this beautiful sculpture in a hospital cancer center or a doctor's office."

Slaughter plans to craft 74 copies of the statue from a mold he made this week and sell them to help raise more money for breast-cancer research.

Slaughter said he lost his wife after five years of marriage — when she was 30 years old.

"They gave her six months to live, and she died six months and two days after," Slaughter said. "No family history, just one of those things."

A West Virginia native, Slaughter owns a business called Qualitee Signs. His interest in art began in high school, and his focus on "sign crafting" dates back to an art teacher telling him, "You'll never make money doodling, so you better figure out something better to do."

Slaughter and his wife, Judy, moved from West Virginia to Seattle and later to Portland. After Judy died, Slaughter said, he couldn't stay in Portland. Deciding to start over, he made his way to California and later settled in the Rogue Valley, focusing on his artwork and contemplating a way to honor his wife's memory and help prevent others from suffering.

"I'm making these to try and raise money so young women can actually get help. Insurance doesn't really cover mammograms for younger women," Slaughter said.

When he returns from Portland, Slaughter will use the mold he created from the original statue to create a limited series of 74 statues that he hopes to sell to raise more money for the breast-cancer cause.

He estimates the series will take four to six months to complete. The statues will go for $1,650, with the majority of profit going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Breast Friends.

"I really want this project to make a difference," he said.

For details on the sculptures, call Slaughter at 541-261-1971.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.