Published on October 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM
By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
David Jay is a fashion photographer who has spent years capturing images of perfectly formed beautiful women. About five years ago, he began shooting young breast cancer survivors after his girlfriend's twin sister was diagnosed with the disease in her late 20s. His motive was to raise awareness that breast cancer can ravage young women as well as old.
He subsequently developed a series of photographs known as the SCAR Project, which stands for “Surviving Cancer - Absolute Reality.” There are 30 large-scale portraits of 18- to 35-year-old women from all over the country that premiered in New York last October.
The project - nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in feature photography last year - is jarring to say the least. One photo in the exhibition shows a woman revealing her pregnant belly protruding beneath a jagged scar where her right breast used to be. Another survivor who had a double mastectomy raises her arms above her head, revealing a winged pink ribbon tattoo on the right side of her chest.
“Ultimately, the SCAR Project is not about breast cancer”, Jay said. “I think the message is perhaps one of compassion, love, humanity, understand and maybe opening a dialog for things that we don't want to speak about...things that we're afraid of,” he said. “It's about realizing that you don't know what's going on when you walk by someone on the street.”
The Scar Project is on exhibit through Sunday at the Art Design Consultants Galler in the Edge Building at 310 Culvert street. Proceeds benefit the Pink Ribbon Girls, a support network for breast cancer survivors.