News / Toronto

Art in a shipping container: Travelling exhibit brings dialogue about sexual assault to Toronto

Participants create visual arts to spark conversations about sexual assaults

Mickey Skin, one of the organizers of 'Sexual Assault: The Roadshow', a participatory art gallery in a shipping container at Nathan Philip Square.

Eduardo Lima/ Metro

Mickey Skin, one of the organizers of 'Sexual Assault: The Roadshow', a participatory art gallery in a shipping container at Nathan Philip Square.

A new project is using art to spark a fresh dialogue about sexual violence.

Sexual Assault: The Roadshow is turning a shipping container into a pop-up art show and workshop space set to tour 15 cities across Ontario over the next three years. It’s in Toronto through Sept. 18 at Nathan Phillips Square.

Working with local artists and community activists, survivors of sexual assault will create and exhibit art that tells a snippet of their stories.

“The things we are doing now, they are not working,” said project director Jane Doe, who is from Toronto. “We encourage women to come forward, but the conviction rate is at one per cent. Women are vilified, there’s stigma and shaming for putting your life on trial.”

Part of what she’s doing stems from her personal experience. Having been a victim of rape back in 1986, Doe sued the police for mishandling her case. After a battle that lasted more than a decade, she won the case and the trial led to drastic changes in how police handles rape cases.

But, even today, Doe says the nature of sexual assault as a crime is still misunderstood.

“Law and order is not the answer,” she said.

Through her art project, Doe is trying to create a space where survivors can truly make their voices heard — exploring resistance, subversion, trauma, pain, hope and joy in a way that makes the public think differently.

“Art speaks where words cannot,” she said, noting the end goal is to create a big exhibition where all the art will be showcased permanently. “It’s a transformative experience for these women, and it gives them a chance to talk back.”

More on Metronews.ca