U.S. artist Erik Hagen, resident of The Hague, Netherlands, is launching the first showing of The Beauty Project in the Tracé Cultuur Station Gallery in Antwerp on 29 May 2010 from 14:00 to 18:00. Following the opening will be a jazz jam-fest from 20:00 to midnight.
Mr. Hagen, an oil painter and photographer, explores and expands the notion of beauty in his photographs of volunteer models. According to Hagen, "Most of the women I know do not like their bodies. I would like to make a difference in the lives of the women I care about. To do so, I've enlisted a corps of volunteers to be models in what I am calling The Beauty Project.
Before each shoot, Hagen interviews each model about why she is volunteering, how she sees her body, her conceptions of beauty, and how she might meet or miss her own expectations. He pairs the photographs with interviews of the models in order to expand the understanding of what is beautiful.
Hagen says, "We are surrounded by images of thin, young fashion models, airbrushed and altered after the shoot. These images create false expectations of what real women look like. We begin to believe that beauty is thin, beauty is young, and if we are not both of those things then we are not beautiful. These beliefs can be harmful, contributing to eating disorders, hindering self-fulfillment and even getting in the way of our relationships."
Hagen envisions The Beauty Project as an ongoing endeavor that will be published as a book. He is currently accepting more volunteers. Selected photographs and more information are available at www.thebeautyprojectart.com. The Beauty Project Cultuurstation Tracé, Ekeren (Antwerpen), Veltwijcklaan 222, 2180 Opening reception: 14:00 to 18:00 Jazz jam session: 20:00 to midnight