I discovered Mihaela Noroc‚Äôs work at the Brescia Photofestival 2019, dedicated to women in photography. Fascinated by the natural and sophisticated power of her portraits, I searched for additional information about her work.
I discovered that when she was 27, Mihaela, Rumanian, decided to leave her ‚Äėordinary‚Äô life in Bucharest and to put all her energy and savings into traveling and photography. That‚Äôs when ‚ÄúThe Atlas of Beauty‚ÄĚ, started.
It was in 2013, on a trip to Ethiopia, where Mihaela discovered a new kind of female beauty alternative to the ones offered by the media. The women she met there showed nudity without shame, or some, more traditional, were covering their heads. From this moment, she started to imagine how many types of female beauty there are in the world that need to be celebrated. At the same time, we, through magazines and media, are used to having a very limited ‚Äėstandard‚Äô of beauty reference compared to the richness and variety of the women in the world.
In 7 years, Mihaela traveled to more than 50 countries taking more than 500 portraits of women of different cultures. Usually, they are women she met in the street. ‚ÄúThe Atlas of Beauty‚ÄĚ gained, little by little, a big international recognition and became a book and an exhibition which traveled all over the world . She presents the portraits ‚Äď taken in natural light - together with a short text, where she tells us how she met the woman, the story she shared with her, her talents, her resilience. In the portrait of Uliana (photo nr 007) we see a beautiful Ukranian woman. She is in a wheelchair, because of a car accident. But what we perceive from the picture is her power and the ‚Äėlight‚Äô she emanates. Mihaela explains that after the accident Uliana struggled to overcome the physical limits using her talent, becoming even a karate champion. She did that for herself and for her mother, who was devastated by the tragic event. Uliana reminds me of Frida Kahlo, another example of a strong woman who was able to overcome a tragedy and enrich her life through her artistic talent.
Or Tuktu, (photo 003), a Turkish girl who lost her hearing, and Rachel, (photo 009), in Brazil, who had a child at 15, and had her partner brutally killed by a gang. But all these women, even if they faced difficulties or grief in life, shine.
Mihaela. through her work, shows a strong spirit of cooperation, a capacity of ‚Äėseeing‚Äô the other, of listening to them. She also gives value to women‚Äôs legacy, taking portraits of mothers and daughters, sometimes of nieces and granddaughters. Or sisters, tight in a hug. Showing that inner beauty is often a ‚Äúthread‚ÄĚ that goes from generation to generation, and it expands also through love and care.