This series entitled "Goddesses" features images of young women, photographed to evoke the flat feeling of an iconographic painting. The blood red halo around their heads symbolizes my interpretation of the "anti-goddess." None of these young women are, in "real life," true representations of the portrayals you see here. Images are fleeting, but human beings are complex. These images are not bound by the philosophy that all women are goddesses, but rather that none of them are goddesses.
In art history the "icon" has often been used as an artist's representation of flawlessness and sanctity. However, the red icon is inspired by the use of red as a color of "danger," particularly in Soviet pop art: a reflection of a viewer's authoritarian gaze upon the subject and a nod to the role of the artist in critiquing society.
The subjects of this series are diverse young models, identically dressed and posed to emphasize physical distinctions and juxtapose the conventional concept of "beauty" with the reality that human beings are diverse. In an attempt to render my subjects as realistic as possible, they are unfettered by skin and body retouching, professional makeup, or airbrushing.
In a static medium such as photography it is difficult to avoid placing flawless models on a pedestal. The Goddesses series is an ongoing attempt to represent diversity, individuality, independence, spirit, and that which drives us away from manipulated perfection while promoting awareness of media representations of beauty.
I became interested in icons while volunteering at an art museum, noticing how the "halo" reappeared as a theme in portraiture of many genres and eras. I was exposed to Russian Orthodox iconography in a survey class on Russian Visual Culture. This inspired a curiosity about the value of icons as keepsakes and about the transition of Russian art from realism to a sort of underground "anti-realism" in the Soviet era. Though this is a series about western culture, my ideas are influenced by the parallels between western and Russian culture in how artists critique society and clash with popular conceptions of what "art" should be.
"Employing the religious iconography of the Virgin Mary, Sarah [Belclaire] adorns each of her subjects in a chaste white dress, reclining on or enveloped by God’s green earth throughout the seasons. Although similarly clothed, the women are ethnically diverse in appearance and the Virgin’s pure white halo has been usurped. Its vibrant, blood red replacement signifies the imperfect anti-goddess in her subjects – and all women – their beauty at once homogenized and individualized, idealized and imperfect."
-Elin Spring, "Inventory of Reverie," What Will You Remember?, October 21, 2015
"Sarah [Belclaire]'s 'Goddesses' seem to embody the very essence of Winter, transforming an icy bed into a soft cloud."
-Suzi Grossman, "Winter @ The Nave Annex," Suzi Looks at Art, July 22, 2014