Towards the end of last month, Ms. Magazine tapped me to see if I'd be willing to share my thoughts on the JARRING III project and the first leg of the Art Against Assault 2016 tour. I was happy to oblige and what followed is a short first-person narrative in which I describe the evolution of the JARRING III project and how it transformed from personal therapeutic art project to a national book tour with the potential to raise nearly $50,000 for survivor resources nationwide.
Today the article went live! Check it out by clicking over to Ms. Magazine.
There was a lot more that I wanted to say that I couldn't quite fit into the article. If you all don't mind, I'd like to share some of the experiences I had along the way here with you, my Patreon supporters.
The tour included a presentation and lecture series of the JARRING III books at notable colleges across the country including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Maryland Institute College of the Art, my alma mater Mills College (where this all started!) and more. The lecture included how the project evolved from my personal attempt to gain perspective and focus on my own experience with sexual assault, to a larger attempt to connect survivors through the medium of the artists' book. I also reached out to students, instructors, and organizations about the Art Against Assault network, an organization which I hope to see connect survivor artists and organizations across the country.
There were so many moments along the tour, both challenging and rewarding, that it's hard to narrow them down even to a few or to accurately express what they meant to me. But I will try.
The first stop on the tour was Maryland Institute College of the Art. I had never visited this campus before, and I was particularly touched by the close relationship the students had with the Wellness Center faculty and staff. I was equally impressed by the school's involvement with #SAAM. Over the course of the tour, it has been enormously encouraging to see how Title IX funds have helped make possible better counseling services and other resources that address sexual assault. I think the best proof of this in action at MICA, is the following flyer showing the incredible range of Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities they had lined up (I'm not kidding, check this out!) I came away feeling truly touched to have witnessed that close connection between faculty / staff and student artists at MICA.
At MILLS COLLEGE, I received a very warm homecoming. I can't really describe how it felt to return to the place where the JARRING III project all began. When I began the project at Mills, I had no idea it would transform into what it's become- a going on four year adventure into book binding, community activism, art advocacy, network building, and so much more. I had a pleasure meeting the new MFA candidates in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program who are doing tremendous work to address issues ranging from trans* rights to identity politics. Over meaningful discussions about the power of artwork to raise the volume on issues we care about, I felt very proud to return to an academic community that truly produces some of the most unstoppable forward-thinking women and queer writers, artists, and activists in the country. You give 'em hell, my fellow Mills warriors!
I also had the honor of presenting my body of work and the JARRING III project to the Mills English Department Faculty, Book Art Faculty, select alumni, and prospective students. Following my talk, a number of faculty and students came up to shake my hand. One woman who I will never forget told me, "I want to say thank you for your service. You know how we say that to members of the military? Well, you have done a service to this country. So I say: thank you for your service." Even my mother (who was present and has always been the #1 supporter of my work) was surprised by the response. "I want you to know that I have never been hugged by so many strangers," she told me as we were leaving the auditorium.
My experiences at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were so profound tha they have been documented in Ms. I would like to add, though, that I truly hope the students who overheard my talk and later approached me about collaborating on future Art Against Assault projects do get in touch! I was over the moon to witness the incredible interdisciplinary work the students at SAIC have created. While I was presenting the JARRING III books, I couldn't help but notice the over-sized textile sculptures of organs to my left, or the Warholian banana wall in front of me. SAIC students are truly some of the most talented student artists I've had the joy of meeting.
I also want to add that starting next week, the JARRING III books will be catalogued into the School of the Art Institute's Joan Flasch Collection: one of the most impressive collections of artists' books in the country. The proceeds from this purchase have been donated to Chicago's own Rape Victim Advocates, an advocacy organization providing hotline, counseling, and many other services to survivors in the Chicago area!
Thank you to everyone who has supported the JARRING III project, Art Against Assault, and me in my ongoing quest to unite survivors and artists across the country. I truly appreciate your support!