Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Christine Peake
Observer Staff Writer 

Face Forward Charity Partner With Artist Gisèle Lubsen For Santa Monica Art Exhibit At Bergamot Station

Ancient Greek Mytho archetypes trigger emotions and feelings that lie deep within us all


The much anticipated exhibit is to be held on Friday May 18th, 7-30pm until 9-30pm.

Face Forward charity are proud to announce their upcoming collaboration with renown artist Gisèle Lubsen to raise funds and spread awareness for their cause.

Face Forward was founded by Scottish native and power house Deborah Alessi and her husband, renown plastic surgeon Dr. David Alessi.

Together they have created a charity that inspires and saves lives, whilst encouraging patients to Face Forward and live their lives with courage and confidence, their relentless support provides patients with a new found confidence and the tools to overcome their personal tragic trauma.

The much anticipated exhibit is to be held on Friday May 18th, 7-30pm until 9-30pm.

About Face Forward:

Face Forward's mission is to provide emotional support and reconstructive surgery for women, children, and men who have been victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, or any cruel and criminal acts. We provide financial and emotional resources to physically injured victims pursuing cosmetic reconstruction procedures with Beverly Hills–based medical teams.

At Face Forward, we focus on healing more than just the physical damage caused by violence and abuse. Face Forward was created to heal survivors' hearts, minds, and lives to restore their emotional health and overcome traumatic obstacles. It's our goal to help them create a better and brighter future for themselves and their loved ones. As a result of believing anything is possible, we have seen our patients succeed as advocates, international motivation speakers, nonprofit founders and much more.

About Gisèle Lubsen

Gisèle Lubsen is a critically acclaimed photographer whose work has been exhibited and published in France, Greece, Dubai, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States.

Her work is created underwater, conjuring the intense, provoking imagery of a Caravaggio painting, but captured in live motion, with living, vibrant models.

Gisèle says: "When working underwater, there is something magical taking place. The photography transforms into an intimate poem shared between models and camerawoman during this unique collaboration process. Working in water is fascinating to me, it's wonderful how our shared experiences take over. Most importantly, the process is emotional andconnects everyone together in pure positivity. Somehow the energy of our exchange radiates out of the final piece."

"Imagine a world where we are limitless and anything is possible... that is water to me"

Gisèle first started experimenting with underwater photography ten years ago. She developed a one-of-a-kind lighting technique designed to mimic the feel of renaissance painters, and this gives her pieces a truly unique feel that is simply not available anywhere else on the planet.

This one off approach comes from her background studying art history in Paris at The American University, then the Parsons School of Art & Design, and then she worked at the prestigious John Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles before completing her MFA at Otis School of Art & Design Los Angeles in 2006.

All these factors combine to make her work truly individual, giving it the ability to resonate deep within one's soul.

Gisèle's aim is to create both a photographic studio experience and a spiritual transformational experience simultaneously. Her approach is the same no matter whether she is creating a fine art production for a gallery exhibition, or a branding project for a major hotel chain – the goal is to create iconic, timeless images that will touch everyone and have beauty and meaning for all.

You may assume that Gisèle uses complex scuba equipment to get such high quality and provocative shots...

... but if you were to watch her, you'd see her free diving with nothing but a camera and a team of assistants to help with lighting, props and set design.

Gisèle free dives because she believes in creating a symbiotic relationship between model and photographer. She does not exist without the model, and vice versa. They submerge and surface at the same time to create a unique energy and flow, and capture truly powerful images.

Each shoot creates a personal experience, a one off narrative that becomes a story unique to the model and the environment, a singular moment that is impossible to replicate or recreate.

The Healing Of The Water

Our first relationship was with water. It is nurturing, redemptive, and it protects us like the amniotic fluid we all formed in.

In water, light, sound, time, they are filtered to create an alternate reality. A redefinition of human existence as we know it. Timeless, an imprint in history that can never be repeated.

We are limitless in water, weightless, able to fly. We experience true freedom, and we are no longer chained to the struggles in our life, to disease, or to the other life obstacles we all face. Instead, we experience Zen, true serenity.

The underwater shoots are natural stress relievers, which becomes a part of the organic healing process of the water itself.


Gisèle's focus is to produce iconic images that reveal the true power and grace of the subjects. We are each powerful, but modern life has a habit of making us forget that.

To bring those things to life, Gisèle focuses on Ancient Greek Mythology, using the archetypes there to trigger emotions and feelings that lie deep within us all. Glory, heroism, these things ring true for us whether we are slaying the mythical beast, or striving to become our best self or laying to rest the memories of a negative past.

Exposing these qualities within her models makes them both more human and more raw than they have ever seen themselves before.

Gisèle's work is based on human relationships: artist to image, vision to mind, eye to body, and empathy to subject. This is why she doesn't use oxygen tanks or any other scuba gear. She shares the experience of free diving and weightlessness with her models, to create harmony, they become a mirror image of each other. The images become an underwater story that renders a decisive scene, the moment to overcome fear and become courageous.

Gisèle says: "I am fascinated by the combination of bravery, vulnerability and honesty which one has to push through underwater. Each person who shares an underwater experience with me becomes a heroic and open, vulnerable version of themselves."

As a result, her work often takes on a life of its own, redefining reality by interlacing our dreams, our fears, our hopes, and our past, and creating something which is greater than those things combined, revealing our true triumphant inner beauty.

Please click on the video to learn more:

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