To celebrate breast cancer survivors who’ve undergone mastectomy surgeries, New York-based photographer, Isis Charise, began The Grace Project — an inspiring project highlighting the courage, beauty, and “grace” these survivors embody.
Charise’s inspiration for her project was drawn from ancient Hellenistic works of art. Charise creates portraits of survivors, projecting the same majesty and beauty of ancient Greek goddesses.
The target audience of the project is women with breast cancer, their partners, caregivers, and families. Charise notes women who have had mastectomy surgery have an enormous emotional adjustment to make with regard to their bodies, and they often feel damaged, ashamed, and isolated. In an email to Medical Daily, Charise said:
The Grace Project shows the reality of the consequences breast cancer has on a woman’s body; however the body is presented in a palatable way that allows honest yet gentle exposure to these consequences. In addition, I believe it is an important for the general public to be exposed to these images. We live in a culture where the media has defined such a narrow and unhealthy concept of beauty. A project like Grace can help to shift those narrow perspectives.
Charise is currently accepting donations to further expand her project. She plans to combine her photographs with an audio installation and text, which will display the emotions of the women. She also plans to create a traveling exhibit, presented at galleries, museums, breast cancer charity events, and online. In addition, Charise plans to create a soft cover publication to distribute throughout oncology departments at hospitals and women’s health advocacy groups, like Planned Parenthood.
When asked what her favorite part of the project has been, Charise said:
I love the time I spend photographing these women. Often the shoots are profound, intimate, revealing and transformative. I feel so honored to have the trust of these women. That they are willing to share their vulnerability is such an honor as both an artist and a human being.
Charise hopes exposure to the images will help partners, families, and caregivers understand the impact a mastectomy has on a woman’s body, and help them reach a place of acceptance.