The purpose of the exhibit, according to curators Ariel R. Westerman ’07 and Anna F. Ludwig ’04, is spiritual as well as financial. CASV hopes the show will raise awareness of sexual violence and spark discussions about it on campus, especially in light of recent events.
“It’s a positive way to deal with a difficult issue,” says Westerman.
“Art of Survival” features works by 11 artists, including Harvard undergraduates, graduate students, alumni and professional artists from the Boston area, in media ranging from photography and painting to sculpture and video. The opening receptions will also feature live performances by the Harvard Spoken Word Society, a cast member from The Vagina Monologues and Raquel Evita Seidel, a local poet, dancer and visual artist.
The exhibit will also feature selected t-shirts decorated by survivors of abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault taken from the Clothesline Project, a program based in Cape Cod that has been addressing the issue of violence against women since 1990.
The works from the Clothesline Project focus on the emotional pain of survivors of sexual violence, while other pieces, including local artist Catherine Pedemonti’s “Faces of Survivors: Faces Reclaimed” photography series, highlight the unique healing and thriving processes of individual survivors, including Pedemonti herself.
CASV cautions that the artwork “contains strong emotional content” which may upset some viewers. There will be a table of informational pamphlets provided, both on how to become involved in the prevention of sexual assault, and on how to get support, if any viewers are deeply affected by the subject matter. “We want this experience to be both upsetting and empowering,” Westerman says.
“I really hope that, overall, the message is about survival as opposed to revictimization,” says Seidel. “I want people to feel the intensity of the subject matter, but not hopelessness.”
Lymari Graciano, a student at Harvard Medical School whose photography is featured, senses a fear of discussing sexual violence and hopes the show will provide opportunities to do so.
Representatives from Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, as well as representatives from Response and Room 13, will be present at the art show for support and as resources for more information on how to get involved. Opportunities for activism, including writing letters to the state legislature, will also be provided.
The show takes place in the Adams Art Space at 12 Linden St. and will be open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. for the opening February 12-13 and from 3 to 6 p.m. February 14-15. Admission is free but donations to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center are welcome.