The Grace Project is an empowering photographic project by fine art photographer Charise Isis that captures the courage beauty and grace of those who have had mastectomy surgery as a result of breast cancer.
The very act of standing in front of a camera revealing their scars, allows each of her subjects a transformative experience, giving them permission to step into self acceptance and the opportunity to share the story of the scars that have been written on their body.
The portraits are inspired by Hellenistic goddess sculptures that have survived the trauma of history, such as the Venus de Milo. Although broken, these cracked and scarred relics are celebrated as beautiful, their brokenness revealing the delicate nature of life, and endurance, and the inherent beauty that still radiates.
The ultimate goal of the Grace project is to photograph 800 portraits, the approximate number of new breast cancer diagnosis in the U.S. every day. Thus far, Charise has photographed well over 600 portraits towards this goal. The exhibition portraits are printed on large format (36×54) silk banners which will eventually be exhibited together in one space to show the enormous impact of breast cancer. Meanwhile smaller versions of the exhibition and artist talks are presented at galleries, museums, hospitals and cancer centers throughout the US as Charise continues to photograph portraits for the project.
Ellyn Ruddick – Bust Magazine says:
“For her project “Grace,” the photographer Isis draws her inspiration from ancient Hellenistic works of art, creating portraits of survivors of mastectomies with the majesty and beauty of the ancient Greek goddesses. Like sculptural relics that have survived the ages, the women are seen with the utmost reverence; the bodily marks of their strife become signs of their timeless courage.”
“Within the safe space of Isis’s careful lens, the women bloom like the flowers that surround them, letting the sun color and warm their resilient bodies. In the place of the Hellenistic marble and stone, they are draped with luscious fabric, full of movement and vitality. One woman stands before a seashell fountain like Botticelli’s Venus. Warrior-like, a survivor holds a plaster cast of breasts to her chest like a shield; others lean on one another for support. Yet another rests in a cocoon of grey fabric, as if ready to emerge and spread her wings. Like living sculptures, their eyes to the sky, these women rise victorious and radiant.”