By Dymen Rutkowski, Features Editor
Over the summer, Bergen Community College’s Paramus campus had the pleasure of hosting local artist Lauren Bettini’s partially interactive healing process of the human body photography exhibit. Unfortunately, Bettini concluded her stay in the college’s West Hall building at the end of August, but here’s a peek into what you may have missed.
Bettini, a high school art teacher and student of William Paterson University, had the opportunity to not only present her first art show, but also touch on a subject close to home. The artwork was an extension of Bettini’s college thesis project, which originally consisted of eight photos and expanded to 21 pieces, including a video. She also added QR codes (short for Quick Response Code) at different points in the exhibit with commentary from Bettini as a helpful guide. It even gave information about Bettini and the women in the artwork.
Any questions you may have had about a specific piece, the QR code had the answers. The mediums used included photography, sewing, needle and thread work and even silicone casting. At the start of the exhibit, there was an old-fashioned sewing machine feeding a red thread that connected every piece.
The photographs were portraits of women’s bodies highlighting their scars from medical surgery. Whether it was a hip replacement, mastectomy, or even a C-section their scars were beautifully showcased. Bettini’s goal was to normalize the healing process. Recovering from her own back surgery, Bettini knew how it felt to always hide your scars. She reached out to social media to find women willing to step out of their comfort zone and reveal their battle scars and, surprisingly, got an impressive amount of volunteers. Most of the women never told their story let alone allowed people to actually see their scars so Bettini gave them a safe space to appreciate the beauty in their own bodies. A woman even cried after seeing the outcome of her photo.
The threading subtly outlined the body part affected by the surgery without taking away from the photograph. My personal favorites were the heart and the realistic baby stitched into the photo of a pregnant woman. Both were very detailed when it came to the thread work but the photographers were so captivating I couldn’t take my eyes away. Something just as eye catching were the silicon hands placed between the artwork. The hands were holding a needle and the red thread to help connect each photo and kept the theme flowing.
Bettini comes from a family of seamstresses and her sister is a surgeon so this exhibit was very personal and you could feel it in the space. She presented the hidden,what some may think less appealing parts of the human body and made it shocking, engaging and mesmerizing to look at. She gorgeously interpreted a sensitive subject and changed a few lives along the way.
Even though you may have missed this art show, don’t forget to stay tuned for the next exhibit at the Bergen Gallery in West Hall at the Paramus Campus.