The 2022 Sexual Assault Awareness Week Planning Committee is proud to present the “Expressions of Empowerment” Art Exhibit. Art is a very power tool of social critique and resistance against injustice within our society. This virtual gallery of worlds provides a platform for members of the Carleton community to use art to share stories, messages, and interpretations that reflect themes of violence, gender, consent, and healing. Artists, of whom consist of survivors and their allies, have curated original works of art that express what these themes mean to them. We thank each artist for their beautiful and brave contributions to this exhibit in an effort to raise awareness about sexual and gender-based violence, and we hope each viewer leaves their exhibit enlightened and empowered.

 

Thank you to our partners: CUSA, the Womxn’s Centre, Equity and Inclusion Services, and the Sexual Assault Support Centre for making this event possible. 

 

Sincerely, 

Tiana Thomas

Project Lead

Talk to the Hand

Preferred Name: Anjali Prajapati 

Pronouns: She/Her

Carleton Alumni

Faculty: Science

Program: Neuroscience

This photo depicts the struggles of many young South Asian womxn and the battle with cultural norms and expectations. Many girls are told at young age that they will only be allowed to do certain things when they are married, or that when they hit the early age of 25 they are asked by many in their communities when they will be settling down. There is a pressure and expectation that a female is not complete without a man.

Puppet

Preferred Name:  Leigha Maerten

Pronouns: she/her 

Program: Childhood and youth studies

On the right side of the painting is representing life and colour in an almost city scape pattern, on the left side is darkness and a women and a hand separated from the side with light and colour. The women has ties around her ankle and wrists that were once connected to the hand and being controlled by the hand. She has broken off from the ties around the hand that was controlling her. It looks like she is falling as it often feels that way when you are breaking away from something that was holding onto you (be it a person, or the thoughts and feelings associated with a person or time in your life) but she is no longer tied to the hand. She is no longer the hands “puppet”.

Empower Me - CW: This piece includes insult words.

Preferred Name: Damla Durhan

Pronouns: She/Her

Faculty: BIT

Program: Interactive Multimedia and Design

This piece symbolizes the effects of misogynistic society on women. How it effects our lives. The hands symbolizes the different harassment types women faces in their daily lives. Such as, how they dress, what they should do and what they should not do. Even though women keeps nurturing and brings lives, creates. With this sketch, I wanted to show the toxicity of misogyny over women. 

I Hold Space for my Grief

Preferred Name:  Niamh Stewart

Pronouns: they/them

This piece is my attempt to express the nebulous emotion of grief. Grief is such a huge part of healing from sexual trauma and it is also the most personal. We live in a world that loves trauma porn – a world that feeds off the drama of other people’s tragedies. They want the gory details, they want the unhealthy coping mechanisms, the post-breakdown comeback drama. We think about this as being the narrative that celebrities live with, but in reality, we all do to a certain extent. Grief is something no one wants to ask about – many don’t even understand that you can grieve for things other than death. This collage and poem are my way of reckoning with my grief. Of tending it, befriending it, and not allowing shame to force me to hide it. 

 

The sigil (the image made out of newsprint) presents the phrase “I hold space for my grief”. This is what I want to do with this pieces – hold that space; for me and maybe even for others. Grief is big and scary and can seem impossible to actually let yourself feel it. It was important for me to include a sigil in this piece because sigils are a big part of modern-day witchcraft – when I started to learn more about tarot and astrology and magic in general it transformed my life. As a kid, I loved all things magical and tarot, astrology, sigils – they’re magic for adults. Working with these forms of spirituality has connected me to my inner child as well are coping mechanisms for my adult self. 

 

Creating art like this where I examine my life and my trauma through my own lens is extremely empowering. Sometimes healing from trauma can feel like having an overbearing parent always trying to find you a boyfriend – you know they have the best intentions but you don’t really want to have dinner with Todd who’s majoring in Economics and likes to golf and whom you would make beautiful babies with – you want to do things your own way, that is to say, the way that works for you. People are always telling me how they think I should “fix” my trauma; what meds I should take, what books I should read, what root vegetable I should eat; and my voice, my needs, my intuition get lost in the mix. But through art, I am able to show people how I feel in the way that feels right for me. It’s a small reclamation of space – space to express myself, space to fuck up, space to be good at something, space to explore hard parts of my life in a safe way.

Predator and Prey

Preferred Name: Trinity Wright 

Pronouns: She/Her

Program: Criminology and Criminal Justice

A composition of a predator and its prey. Survivors of sexual assault or abuse often depict the effect of being victimized as losing a portion of themselves. Within this piece, for Sexual Assault Awareness Week, I wanted to adapt this response from survivors into imagery. 

The predator, illustrated as a Cobra, has been on the hunt due to hunger. Once successful, the Cobra is satisfied; however, the prey has lost. 

The human form in the painting represents all individuals who have been victims of sexual assault. Blue butterflies symbolize rebirth, and yellow symbolizes hope to signify victims taking back what was once theres. Although it may seem as though the predator has won, good always defeats evil, and survivors have the strength (at their own pace) to take back what they have lost from their abusers to further the healing process.

If the Shoe Fits

Preferred Name: Megan Sicard

Pronouns: Any (She/They/He)

Alumni/ Saint-Paul University Student

Program: Social Innovation

I wrote this piece in a moment of agony and empowerment. I think part of my healing journey was understanding that they can both co-exist. To move forward you have to understand the root of pain. Exposing this piece makes me feel like I can let a piece of that pain go.

No one likes a mad woman

Preferred Name:  Tiana Thomas

Pronouns: she/her 

Program: Global and International Studies

These paintings depict two paintings of myself, one eyes open and alert, and one eyes closed without clothing. These two reflections of myself intend to demonstrate my experiences in my efforts to challenge sexual violence and the systems that reinforce it. One on hand, I try to be a bold advocate, but on the other, this work is emotionally exhausting and makes me feel vulnerable and defeated. In both paintings, bright red tears drip down their cheeks, symbolic of tears of anger. Whether I am publically protesting against sexual violence, or I am reflecting on its violent and severely damaging role within out society, I am constantly overwhelmed by feelings of anger and frustration at the patriarchy which consumes us. The worst part is, no one seems to share my passion sentiment for anger and furry, so I am left to my feelings, and my burning tears, hoping one day things will change.