Through art, a powerful statement about sexual violence
A three-year-long project, which brings survivors together through art, landed in Ottawa this week.
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“There is no language for sexual assault.”
So says Jane Doe — a Toronto woman who goes by this name publicly to support women whose experiences with sexual violence are so frequently erased by the legal system — as she points out some of her favourite pieces of art created by survivors of sexual violence.
For the last two years, Jane Doe has been running “Sexual Assault: The Roadshow,” a travelling art project that moves around Ontario, using art therapy to help connect with women who have experienced sexual violence and to allow them to tell their stories, to use art as a pathway to healing.
As the project travels around Ontario, it gathers different forms of artwork created by survivors of sexual violence. Survivors from Peterborough created puppets of their internal identities; survivors in Toronto took pictures of the parts of their bodies they were hoping to reclaim. As the container travels, the collection grows.
On Thursday, the project launched in Ottawa in Vanier, in collaboration with the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), and will be here through Pride month.
There will be four workshops, each aimed at different segments of the population, that will use art to help open and lead discussion about sexual violence.
“Art connects people. Art opens up a way to talk,” Jane Doe said. “Our legal system doesn’t work, and our language doesn’t work.”
Sitting in a grass field in Vanier, the brightly painted shipping container is unmissable.
“It’s an extremely powerful statement that every person driving along Montreal Road will be reminded that we are not going to stay silent about sexual violence,” said Yami Msosa, media co-ordinator for SASC.
Msosa says that in addition to being an artistic space, the shipping container serves as a place for support. Support workers will be there at various times throughout the month for anyone who needs them.
The gallery will be open throughout the month of August, and will conclude with a showing of the art created by survivors of sexual violence from Ottawa.