The Atlas of Beauty by Mihaela Noroc MAG

April 8, 2018
By AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
257 articles 0 photos 328 comments

Favorite Quote:
Dalai Lama said, "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called YESTERDAY and the other is called TOMORROW, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live..."

A photographer travels around the world for four years, documenting the diverse beauty of everyday women.

Women of the world in 500 portraits. It’s not easy to fulfill the promise of delivering an atlas of beauty when the world is wide. But Mihaela Noroc, hailing from Bucharest, Romania, has created a lusciously comprehensive compendium, spanning continents and nations. While the media has been criticized for favoring only certain images, Noroc features women of all colors, all ethnicities, ages, religions and regions with unforced grace. There are various interpretations of femininity, various backdrops and scenes, a menagerie of symmetry, color, skin, eyes and lips. But beauty blossoms on every face.

The book has tremendous value artistically. Noroc has an intuitive eye for color and harmony, and every portrait is what a portrait should be – an intimate shot that halts place and time. Facial expressions range from proud and fierce to meek and innocent, as well as haunting, harrowing, humble, and at peace. My favorite spread might be pages 82-83, where two women with almost impossibly different lives look on, side by side. The woman to the right lives in a remote, war-plagued rural country; the woman on the left is a singer-songwriter working through a first album. It makes sense to pair them together visually – they share similarly shaped facec, perfectly almond green eyes, and each wears a red scarf and garb of the same shade. But one was shot in Haifa, Israel – the other in the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan.

And what makes the book so human is the stories. Women’s hopes and dreams from all over the world are given a voice in descriptions below the portraits. Sometimes it’s simple – where they’re from, what they’re doing – and other times they share personal experiences and complex narratives. Regional lingo, culture, and traditions are included. Sometimes the women’s voices are heard directly through a quoted paragraph. What’s amazing is that it’s all real. Each woman or girl is likely out there right now, living her life. They are mothers and daughters and grandmothers and sisters, mirror images of strength across continents.

The book is also a love letter to all women. Noroc recognizes every woman is beautiful by portraiting with equal love. And while every woman is simply as she is, she comes from every profession, every race, every walk of life, often in direct conflict with institutions and norms that seek to silence her. By travelling the world to illuminate the people we walk by on the street, Noroc demands we see every person in a new light. This atlas feels like a precious heavy volume, something truly meaningful that has been collected and put on paper as art. Every spread is purposeful. Images are paired together for similar arrangements; siblings pose beside one another, hands around their faces, or children in the arms. What unites them all is even more warming – their evident beauty when you stop the clock and look and listen. Sheroes indeed.

The author's comments:

What does "THHRe" stand for? It's THE HOLY HITCHHIKE’S REVIEW...A shorter version of the Hitchhike, reviews principally concerning books, movies, and music. Enjoy, and let loose your commentary and suggestions below. A new column of THH every Friday!

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