As one of the 1 in 4 women who will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes, I am a survivor of rape. I tell my story because it is not a secret. I did nothing wrong and if I tell you then we share the responsibility and the weight of it. I don’t have to shoulder it by myself any longer.
When I decided to explore the topic of violence against women for my BFA show, I didn’t know what to expect. It is not a pleasant topic. It is stressful for me to talk about, to make art about, even to write this blog about. But it is important. Period.
I’m Telling You Now emphasizes the power of secrets and the way that we keep them because of the shame and the fear that we were somehow responsible.
I admit, there are tears running down my face, but they are not for what happened to me, instead they are for the experience I had when sharing this book. What happened during my BFA show opening was beyond anything I could have imagined. Women came up to me and told me their stories, right there, in the gallery. Women called me days later and told me their stories. They said things like, “I’ve never told anyone, but I know you will understand.” And what I realized in those moments was that by telling each other our stories we were taking away the power of the people who hurt us. Secrets are so powerful and they continue to hurt the people who keep them. More than one woman has since said, “I want you to tell my story.” In the future I hope to make artists’ books together with other women to tell their stories – perhaps in a gallery project.
I’m Telling You Now has had several iterations. This is the final version, I’m ready to release it out into the world. It is an edition of 10.
Part of the BFA series, “Always Reborn,” this structure is one of my favorites. The accordion book has fold up leaves to create pockets and features the reoccurring motif of a daisy – who hasn’t plucked those petals at least once? Designing the structure was a labor of love and precision – for some reason it felt important that the daisy be in the front and back of the pockets so that when you pull out a story, the daisies are still complete.
We’ve all felt them, the rollercoaster ups of being in love and the screaming downhills of being hurt. Loves Me/Not is a collection of 12 real stories gathered from women of all ages about times that they felt loved and times that they felt hurt, betrayed, and left behind.
The stories are tender, poignant and funny. Here is just one of the stories included in Loves Me/Not:
My ex-boyfriend and I decided to call it quits. I wanted to make things work, he was my first love and I thought we were meant to be together. I still remember calling him that Sunday to talk about our relationship and hearing him
say, “I’m sorry, I love you, but it’s just too hard.” I remember feeling my throat go dry, I was completely speechless. I actually felt like my heart had stopped beating. The days following our breakup I couldn’t eat and I cried myself to sleep at night. This was my first experience with heartbreak.
Loves Me/Not is archival inkjet printed on Rives BFK and is an edition of 10.
Like many women, I struggle with infertility. And, like many artists, I make art about those topics which are the hardest, and the most important, to explore. For my BFA show last year I made a series of women’s figures and artists’ books titled, “Always Reborn.” The show explored issues particular to women’s experiences including infertility, family, love, and violence against women.
The books that I made for the show have been shown in galleries since then, but I realized that they weren’t quite yet in their final form. The wax covers were not realistic for handling and there were small changes that I needed to make to bring the book into the full focus of my original vision. Whereas I originally started with the women’s form and then added the book, I realized the book was all that is needed, the form became secondary.
I’ve been working on the final versions and am finally ready to release them into the world. Empty is one in a series of four books: Empty, I’m Telling You Now, Loves Me/Not and Family Circle.
Empty explores infertility using the universal display of family photos. As my mother, my grandmother, and many mothers have before me, I imagined a display on the mantel of photos of my children: baby photos, first-day-of-school photos, graduation and wedding photos. Empty displays the frames sans photos. The lullabies I’ve hummed countless times to imaginary children weave through the book in a faded, almost transparent soundtrack.
Edition of 10, archival inkjet printed on Rives BFK.