Bélanger was selected by curator Bénédicte Lécat to join a delegation of painters and sculptors travelling to represent the province of Québec at the prestigious Salon de la Nationale des Beaux-Arts au Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France. This annual exhibition, established in 1862, is juried by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (SBNA), whose past presidents have included Ernest Meissonier, Jules Dalou, Puvis de Chavannes, and Auguste Rodin. Here Bélanger had the rewarding experience of meeting artists from the international community, which included representatives from Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Bélanger was honoured by the invitation to attend this juried show, which has played host to many of the world’s most acclaimed and legendary painters and sculptors, including Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Doré, Edouard Manet, and Auguste Rodin.
Bélanger’s sculptures convey the situations and activities of daily life; it is easy to imagine one’s self in similar clothes, experiencing these scenarios firsthand. Indeed, the clothing and accessories are so authentic that most observers tend to personalize the sculptures, relating to the work despite the absence of a literal human form. These bodiless stone characters, composed solely of suspended garments, are simultaneously unusual and familiar. They invite contemplation, reminding us that our bodies may be limited to the physical realm, but our minds are only limited by imagination.
Deriving inspiration from the form, shape, and texture of the stone itself, Bélanger transforms her raw materials into highly realistic draped fabrics and clothing. Once sculpted and polished, alabaster, serpentine, soapstone, and marble are magically transformed into expressive garments. The strength of Bélanger’s art lies in her ability to communicate the life of her subjects through distinct shapes that imply movement. We initially connect with the beauty of the form but are held captive by the intricate details. Just like threads woven into a fabric, the subject’s physiology is revealed by the draping or veiling of clothing, weaving a story for the viewer to discover through his or her own perception.
Despite the challenging requisite conditions of sculpting, like the need for a respirator and HASMAT suit to avoid the inhalation of dust, Bélanger loves the physical work and the direct contact with the stone. She wishes to challenge observers of her work to question societal ideas and generalizations about body image. Without identifiable human characteristics, she offers the viewer limitless interpretations and emotional connections. Her unique disembodied approach makes her work highly recognizable.
Bélanger has been an active member of both the Association des Sculpteurs sur Pierre dela Montérégie (ASPM) and Regroupement des Artistes en Arts Visuels (RAAV) since 2001 and 2002, respectively. She pushes the limits in working with stone, often taking chances that destroy an almost finished creation. Fluidity, softness, and intricate details—qualities not typically associated with the medium of stone—are achieved by this gifted artist. Her pursuit of perfection and willingness to push boundaries has resulted in numerous prizes and awards. Her biggest motivation comes from creating a sculpture that will inspire the ongoing imagination of its future owner. Ultimately, she hopes that her art will take life through their eyes.