News / Edmonton

'Trauma is wordless': Fine Arts graduate reflects traumatic experience in her art

Becky Thera is a Fine Arts graduate who has created an art installation lending her own perspective to the #metoo movement

Becky Thera has a gallery exhibiting her various artworks based off of her personal sexual assault experiences.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Becky Thera has a gallery exhibiting her various artworks based off of her personal sexual assault experiences.

Three years ago, Becky Thera was sexually assaulted. The feminist artist poured her trauma into drawing, stitching and making art, that led to an art installation currently on display at the University of Alberta’s Fine Arts Building Gallery.

Thera hopes it helps other victims make sense of the aftermath of a traumatic event.

“When we look at survivors, there isn’t a place to really talk about these experiences,” she said.

“I didn’t feel there was a place within art or society to embrace that negative feeling and to talk about it. Because if one in three women have an experience like that, that means so many of us are going through this trauma alone. I felt like this was something to talk about.

The art installation called Lacuna, which means missed or forgotten, consists of a series of four installations that incorporate different media including photographs, embroidery, fabric and video.

With personal photographs, Thera has incorporated herself into the art to showcase her own experiences. In other installations, for example a ten-foot red skirt, she invites the community to write messages about “rape culture and the denial of women’s experiences”.

Although the timing of the installation was not planned, Thera says she is happy to lend another perspective to the #metoo movement.

“It was kind of a coincidence that it lined up with this cultural push to talk about these experiences,” she said. “This isn’t something that’s new. This is something that has been going on throughout our history. We just haven’t been able to talk about it.”

The #metoo hashtag about workplace harassment went viral in October 2017. The hashtag turned into a movement after women from different parts of the world and from different backgrounds shared the phrase a million times followed by a personal story of sexual assault or misconduct.

Thera hopes her art can be a voice for those that have experienced similar trauma and are not yet ready to talk about it themselves.

“A lot of trauma is wordless and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Art is a way we can explore these difficult emotions in a way that words really can’t grasp.”

Thera’s installation will be displayed at the University of Alberta’s Fine Art Building until March 17.

She says she is currently compiling a package to propose the installation to other galleries in Canada.

Although she plans on taking her artwork across the country and possibly around the world, she says she plans on continuing to create feminist art.

“This sort of history of women's oppression and the denial of women's experiences and voices has always been really integral to my work,” she said. “I will continue that theme of feminism and embracing women's’ realities.”

More on