TOPEKA -- “A History of Self” an art exhibit featuring artwork by
women and children survivors of domestic violence, will be open one
night only, Friday, June 3 at the Blue Planet Café in downtown Topeka,
110 SE 8th Avenue from 5pm-8pm. This exhibit is a part of Topeka’s
First Friday Art Walk. This is a free family friendly event that will include refreshments, interactive art projects and a photobooth.
The wide variety of two and three dimensional works shown in “A
History of Self” were created during weekly survivor art groups held
at the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment. A group of dedicated staff and volunteers design projects and facilitate the group with women and children. These groups often have a significant impact on the survivors who attend them. One anonymous survivor explained her participation by saying: “art gives you a voice when you have no words.”
Another participant said, simply, “art is healing.” Group projects have included hand painted clay tiles, survivor silhouettes, photography, mixed media paintings, contour drawings and monster collages. One of the most memorable projects, Baggage to Luggage, asked survivors to use a medium of their choice to transform an old suitcase from baggage -- which weighs them down, into luggage
-- to be carried forward. Interactive art projects will also be held
at the opening, to allow each attendee to be a part of the exhibit.
The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment, formerly the Battered
Women Task Force, has served victims of sexual and domestic violence for over 30 years. Services offered include a 24-hour crisis hotline emergency shelter, individual and group counseling, court advocacy, public education and batterer’s intervention.
YWCA CSE Interim Program Director Becky Dickinson said “the survivor art groups have been a wonderful addition to the services we offer survivors of abuse. This exhibit allows participants to express their diverse stories in a way that both educates the community and
contributes to their healing process.”
The exhibit name, “A History of Self,” is a reference to the strong
tradition of female self-portrait making in times of significant oppression of women. When survivors of domestic violence, victims of repression in their own homes, create art, depictions of self are a
frequent subject. These women and children, survivors of one of the
most underreported crimes in America, turn to art to express their
stories. Dispelling the one-dimensional “victim” image, their art
reveals the many layers of a person and the complexity of their lives.
This program is presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a
state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal
agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
More information about A History of Self is available online at
www.ywcatopeka.org and www.facebook.com/ywcatopeka.