April 18, 2016, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
The University of Maryland Silent No More Art Workshop on April 18, 2016 was sponsored by the student-run organization PSA (Preventing Sexual Assault). Before the workshop, I gave a talk to dozens of students. Fellow Bill Cosby survivor Kaya Thompson also gave a talk and read her poetry.
SILENT NO MORE & HEART STRINGS ANTI-RAPE WORKSHOPS are two separate group activities that begin with an artist talk by me and a slideshow presentation of my work relative to my personal sexual assault survivorship and my anti-rape activism. Following the talk and Q&A about my work is the anti-rape art workshop, either Silent No More or Heart Strings. Both workshops, though different, involve the creation of functional art objects, group exercises and discussion. The objects made in Silent No More are painted paper megaphones. In the Heart Strings workshop participants decorate wooden heart necklaces. Participants can choose to either take home the objects or combine the objects to make an installation. Both workshops are creative vehicles of support and empowerment that encourage participants to use their voices in order to combat rape culture and to help heal themselves and society. Whether they are survivors, bystanders or advocates of sexual assault victims, through the use of metaphor, participants of all genders experience the personal and therapeutic impact of speaking out against sexual violence. The trope of both workshops is the Chinese philosophy known as “Yin-Yang,” the inter-connectivity of opposing forces. Explored in the exercises is the duality of sexual trauma juxtaposed against healing.
In the Silent No More workshop, there is an art-making station in place with painting supplies and poster paper. I first give an artist talk,with a slideshow presentation of my work, relative to my being a sexual assault survivor and anti-rape activist. Participants gather around the table and each cut a sheet of poster paper into a specific shape. I do not disclose the purpose of the shape. Participants are instructed to color both sides of the shape in solid colors which they feel oppose one another. They are instructed to write “Silent No More” on each side of the shape. While doing so, we discuss the concept of Yin-Yang and opposing forces as they relate to rape culture. Each participant decorates one side of the paper with words and images pertaining to the negative effects of rape and sexual assault, the other side with words and images reflecting survivorship. Participants stand and form a circle, facing one another. They are instructed to each roll their decorated paper into the shape of a megaphone, and are encouraged to consider whether the negative side will be the interior or the exterior of the megaphone, relative to how they process the subject of sexual violence, both internally and externally within their bodies and minds. The group decides whether to first speak out the positive side or the negative. One by one, using their megaphone to project their voices, each participant is invited to speak out a short phrases they wrote about sexual violence. Once everyone has had a turn, the megaphones are turned inside out, and each participant voices a phrase they wrote on the opposite side. Once competed, the group shouts out in unison, from their megaphones, “Silent No More,” three times. Guided by specific questions, group dialogue ensues.
During the Heart Strings workshop, each participant decorates one side of a wooden heart necklace, with words and images pertaining to the negative effects of rape and sexual assault, the other side with words and images reflecting survivorship. Participants physically and metaphorically interconnect by forming a circle and tying the ends of their heart strings to the end of the heartstrings of the persons on each side of them. The hearts are rotated around the circle, so that each person holds in their hands the heart of a different person. The group decides whether to first address the positive side or the negative side the hearts. Each person then reads aloud the words of someone else’s heart. The hearts are rotated again, and the opposite sides are read aloud, with each person reading aloud the words of someone else’s heart. The purpose of the holding and reading of someone else’s heart is to emphasize the importance of empathy when listening to or dealing with another person’s sexual trauma. Guided by specific questions, group dialogue ensues. Scroll down for more photos.
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