The SCAR Project (Surviving Cancer, Absolute Reality) is a large scale photography exhibit dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer. David Jay, a fashion photographer, has not only helped raise awareness, he has helped women who have survived their battles with breast cancer find their strength and reclaim their beauty. Over 100 women between the ages of 10-35 have been photographed bearing their scars. The images are haunting, stark and, indeed, beautiful. Though the exhibit is not yet scheduled for Boulder, Colorado, the images can be seen online at http://www.thescarproject.org/gallery/
David started the project when a friend of his was diagonsed with breast cancer. He felt it was a way for women who have gone through this serious battle to express themselves. He states, “For these young women, having their portrait taken seems to represent their personal victory over this terrifying disease,” said Jay. “It helps them reclaim their femininity, their sexuality, identity and power after having been robbed of such an important part of it.” By presenting these photographs, David Jay has reminded the public that while breast cancer awareness is increasing, coming face to face with it in images hits people on a much different level than a pink ribbon.
While the images are severe and honest, they capture raw emotion. In each subject, grace, bravery, fear and acceptance is found. Though the trauma of having come through something life threatening is reflected in many of these survivors’ eyes, they appear to be at peace with their bodies. Vanessa Tiemeier, one of the subjects photographed, says of David, “He has a talent of capturing your true emotion. I just look so timid and unsure, still trying to accept the physical differences. There’s so much that is behind my eyes in that photo that I didn’t even know was happening.” For survivors, being photographed can be liberating. Recently, Jay has taken his project one step further, and has begun to shoot images of women under the age of 30 in stage four cancer. It’s likely that these women will not survive. For these women, it’s a way to show others what they are going through when words often can’t convey all that they must endure. By keeping this project honest, Jay hopes to keep spreading the word about breast cancer. Most of the women he photographs would likely be dead already had they not been checked. An early detection is key in a successful treatment.
Women from all over the country have participated and agreed to be photographed for the SCAR project. It has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in feature photography. Upcoming exhibits including one in Italy can be found on the SCAR project website at http://www.thescarproject.org/exhibition/
“An amazing testament to strength, courage and inner beauty that transcends scoiety’s standards of outer beauty. Seriously, brilliant.” – Tina Carroll