Unheard Voices|Unheard Wisdom

Submitted by Carmel Anderson

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Client: Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council

Location: Ketchikan, AK, United States

Completion date: 2014

Overview

The “Unheard Voices|Unheard Wisdom” exhibit focuses on the national epidemic of violence against women. Using the power of art, I want to reach a diverse audience to bring a deeper awareness of victims, while assisting communities to envision solutions for eradicating violence from affecting families, friends and neighbors. “Unheard Voices|Unheard Wisdom” uses the visual language of art to be a catalyst for change by providing insights by those impacted by abuse. Domestic abuse and sexual assault have been silent too long and the cries for help should no longer be ignored. It is our social responsibility to break the silence.

Goals

Following the show, financial support for “Women In Safe Homes” (WISH) increased, awareness of the need for more support for survivors was noted, and a more diverse group of women sought services. The success of the “Unheard Voices/Unheard Wisdom” debut with it’s non-threatening and inviting approach to difficult topics continues to have transformative effects in our community. “What a powerful yet sensitive way to bring to light the horrors of abuse. This utterly simple, unencumbered exhibit brought me to tears” (L. Gillet, March 2014).

I believe this exhibit should be shared with other cities by partnering with local experts and offering interactive community projects.

Process

While developing the concept for this show I did extensive research by reading and talking to advocates and survivors, thus allowing me to express justly the experience and nature of this violence. I partnered with the local women’s shelter to reflect concrete realities for those who work with domestic violence and sexual assault. I carefully designed art that would not distract from the issues nor re-victimize the viewers. This was achieved by using neutral colors with no reference to age, race or images of specific people
“Unheard Voices/Unheard Wisdom” offered interactive opportunities for viewers to share their stories by contributing to the Hope and Wisdom quilt—canvas squares made available upon which to write. In my first show, messages such as: “No more lies…no more fake smiles. I am finally free” (written anonymously). “Dot be around other people how hurt your children, (sic)” wrote a 6 year old survivor. It is my vision that squares from each community may be tied together in a “living” mosaic to show the compelling and powerful connections we all share.