Violence Against Women in Art

A blind embossed page from a book on my own rape

A blind embossed page from a book on my own rape

While researching material for my masters thesis, I came across some of the most disturbing images I have ever seen. Oddly enough when I mis-Googled ‘violence against’ instead of VAW, I was connected with images of women across the world who were disfigured in one ghastly way or another. I was particularly struck by women who had their nose and ears cut off by their in-laws of husbands for trying to leave them. While on a particularly hard to digest page of outrageous pain, there was a split second where the look in one of the women’s eyes shook me to the core. I recognized myself in those eyes. The reflection of the brutally raped women that was me in 1996 a few months after I finished a 5-year undergraduate degree in architecture with honors and had one week before received the job of my choice at a large architectural firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I left the page quickly to remove this from my mind. A few days later, I decided that this was, after all, the nature of said thesis and I would get point blank real in an at once luxurious but biting way. Creating work of beauty that I am inclined to do but leaving a hard narrative of truths most people want to ignore became the goal. I used these other women’s incidents because I myself got through a violent attack that almost killed me by putting it on a global scale. When the darkness of pain and isolation directed me toward the bad end of the only two roads possible to take after such a crisis held my head down I was able to lift it back up. By knowing there was larger traumas out in the world that women were surviving so could I.

Interior of book art from exhibition

Interior of book art from exhibition

The exhibition was a success, and in one of the books I made, I left blank pages that unfurled so that viewers could write reactions. it was the most encouraging thing I could have done since I found out first hand that many were moved by the various narratives: my own and that of women in the world. Since I am at a library computer I cannot upload more photos than I have with me and for my next post I want to talk about someone who became a focal point for my exhibition: Aesha Mohammadzai.

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