Author: Jan Goff-Lafontaine
The following review was contributed by: E.Dian Moore & To read more about Dian Moore’s reviews click HERE
The body of a woman is beautiful, perhaps more so as she lives life and overcomes the many obstacles waiting to trip her up or tear her down. But what about the body of an abused woman? Is she still beautiful? Can her body be beautiful? Photographer and author Jan Goff-LaFontaine met with forty women, aged 19 to 95, all survivors of abuse. She photographed them in the nude to celebrate their ownership of their bodies after experiencing the victory of surviving abuse.
Women in Shadow and Light is not a book for voyeurs or those seeking a thrill. Instead, it is a deeply moving tribute to womanhood, in particular, to women who have survived abuse. Each woman allowed the part of her body she most associated with her personal experience of abuse to be photographed—only now that body part is seen victoriously.
Completely shot in black and white, the images in this book are not just works of art—they are works of love, celebration, hope, triumph, and acceptance. Their beauty is enhanced as the meaning of the portrait becomes clearer, using a narrative in the subject's own words as well as notes by the author. Some portraits include a post-interview letter from the women speaking about the experience of the photo shoot.
In Jan's own words, "I wanted to make the book a celebration of the strength and beauty of women; a reclaiming of their own joy and a gift of hope to others."
Why choose nude portraiture to offer hope? Jan says, "The question haunting me was: how can we change our perception—and even influence society's concept—of what it means to be a beautiful woman? My vision was to allow each of the women to help create her own portrait in order to see her body in a new way; to see it as beautiful and precious. To see it as a work of art."
I recommend Women in Shadow and Light for all women who are recovering from abuse; for counselors and pastors to share with those seeking affirmation. It is an inspiring tribute to the power of a woman and the beauty that arises out of the ashes of a fire that once threatened to suffocate the essence of God's most stunning creation: woman.
Two quotes from participants in Women in Shadow and Light:
"It's truly a gift to be part of this, and to be able to speak up, knowing that my story of courage can inspire others. Instead of feeling small and damaged, I am brave, I have healed, and I am an example of how others can heal, too."—Cheryl
"I’d like to hold out hope to other women…to let them know they aren’t alone; they aren’t the only ones these things happened to, and they can survive."—Ellie
Jan Goff-LaFontaine is a photographer and writer who is dedicated to bringing awareness and healing through art. She uses a 35 mm and medium format cameras to focus attention on people, sometimes spending hours to capture a moment. Each sensitive portrait is handcrafted by Jan to offer viewers a glimpse into the essence of her subjects.