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Sexual violence survivor art exhibits making impact on regional campuses

Published: October 16, 2019 Author: George E. Mauzy Jr.

After inspiring thousands of people on the Athens campus to help end sexual violence, Ohio University’s “What Were You Wearing” and “Through the Survivors Lens” art exhibits are now touring the University’s regional campuses and centers in hopes of the same result.

“Through the Survivor Lens” is currently on display at the Ohio University Lancaster campus and the “What Were You Wearing” just completed a long residency at the Ohio University Southern campus in Ironton, Ohio.

Dr. Pam Kaylor, associate professor of instruction at Ohio University Lancaster, said the “What Were You Wearing” exhibit was visited by classes, faculty, staff, students, and the community while on campus. She added that the annual Take Back the Night rally against violence was held in the gallery during that time. 

“What Were You Wearing” was widely received as an educational tool about gendered violence to debunk the myths surrounding victim blaming and sexual assault,” Dr. Kaylor said. “Many viewers were deeply moved by the powerful message and the exhibit evoked a profoundly somber and quiet atmosphere of reflection.” 

Through the Survivors' Lens
Through the Survivors' Lens

Dr. Kaylor said it’s important for the Lancaster campus to host these powerful exhibits because no area is exempt from the effects of gendered violence. 

“In some of our homes, on our streets and throughout the community, sexual assault and domestic violence have deeply traumatic and widespread effects that are often hidden or not discussed,” she said. “These exhibits create awareness and an opportunity to open a dialogue about what is happening to victims and their families all around us.” 

In regards to the current art exhibit on her campus, “Through the Survivor Lens, Dr. Kaylor said it not only gives the campus insight about the victims and the utter devastation in their lives related to sexual assault and abuse, but it also shows the strength of the human spirit as they tell their stories of survival through photographs. 

“We are making it available for all in our area to view and will shine a light on it during our annual Take Back the Night rally against sexual violence on Oct. 22,” Dr. Kaylor said. “Ohio University Lancaster is so grateful for the support of The Women’s Center and for the inclusion of our campus in each of these survivor art exhibits.”

Robert F. Pleasant, Jr., associate director of Student Resource Commons at Ohio University Southern, also thanked the Women’s Center for sharing its exhibits with the regional campuses. 

“Not only was “What Were You Wearing” an educational experience, but for many it became personal,” he said. “People could see themselves, a loved one, or their child reflected in the clothing. They realized that it could be anyone and that the idea that someone’s clothing could cause a sexual assault is outdated and false.” 

Pleasant said he was contacted by a survivor who wanted to thank Ohio University Southern for hosting the exhibit and many others have given him feedback.

“They shared how important it is for others to see the outfits and to read the stories associated with each article of clothing,” he said. “I believe the exhibit gives survivors a sense of validation. Some of them said it should be mandatory for all students to view the exhibit.”

Pleasant said the “What Were You Wearing” exhibit was one of the most powerful ones to ever visit the Southern campus. 

“Whether it was a faculty, student or community member viewing the exhibit, it invoked many strong emotions,” Pleasant said. “One of my goals in having it on campus was to make sure that people are aware that this is a safe place to share their experiences and there is a support system and resources available to assist them.”

In addition to hosting the two traveling sexual-violence awareness art exhibits, the regional campuses and centers are also invited to host a live steaming of the 365 Conversation with Drea Kelly titled, “Creating Public Awareness to End Domestic Violence at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Baker University Center Ballroom on the Athens campus.

Kelly, the ex-wife of embattled R&B singer R. Kelly, is a sexual-assault survivor who will tell her personal story and share some prevention tips with the audience. A dancer, choreographer and creative director by trade, she rose to fame by starring on VH1’s popular reality TV show, “Hollywood Exes,” where she was branded “the breakout star.”

So far, live streams are scheduled for Ohio University Chillicothe's Bennett Hall Auditorium and the Ohio University Dublin Campus’ OhioHealth Medical Education Building 1, room 242.

Faculty, staff or students at the remaining regional campuses and centers who want to view Kelly’s talk should contact the OHIO Women’s Center at 740-593-9625 or www.ohio.edu/womens-center for more information.

“It’s great that we can provide survivor-centered programming to participating RHE campuses in person and virtually,” said Dr. M. Geneva Murray, director of the OHIO Women’s Center. “It helps people understand the various ways that we can support the students and staff at the regional campuses and gives them access to the same programs that we have for Athens students.”

Dr. Murray said there are two additional ways to interact with Kelly during her Oct. 24 visit to Athens:

  • A “Tea with Drea Kelly” reception will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. for women of color who serve as student leaders as well as their allies who can demonstrate their commitment to supporting women of color. This may be through programming, a dedication to anti-racism work, or other forms of allyship. If you are interested in attending, please register at:  https://tinyurl.com/Tea-with-Drea-Kelly 
  • Kelly will host a sexual-assault survivor’s reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. All members of the Ohio University community that identify as survivors are welcome to email survivor.advocacy@ohio.edu for more information. This program has received an exemption from mandated reporting in order to allow for full-campus participation by all members of the campus community. Disclosures of incidents of sexual misconduct at this specified event will not be considered notice to Ohio University. Participation will be capped to provide participants space to interact with Kelly. This event is sponsored by Student Affairs. 

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