SAPAC show uses art to spark discussion of sexuality- and gender-based violence

Sunday, April 2, 2017 - 7:22pm

Engineering freshman Ragav Subramanian writes on a whiteboard art display at the SAPAC rEVOLUTION art exhibit in the Connector on Friday.

Engineering freshman Ragav Subramanian writes on a whiteboard art display at the SAPAC rEVOLUTION art exhibit in the Connector on Friday. Buy this photo
Max Kuang/Daily

A wide variety of visual and written art created to highlight gender- and sexuality-based violence were displayed in West Quad Residence Hall as hundreds of students walked by Friday evening.

The Networking, Publicity and Activism Program housed within the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center organized this event, called “rEVOLUTION: Making Art for Change,” which aimed to promote stories of survivors and educate observers on gender, sexism and empowerment. This is the 12th year SAPAC has hosted the show.

Along with multiple rooms containing student submissions, a separate area was devoted to SAPAC resources encouraging participants to pursue healthy relationships and reach out if necessary.

LSA senior Alyssa Dunbeck and LSA junior Srinidhi Subramanian served as coordinators of the event.

“We hope that this event inspires you to continue participating in discussion surrounding gender-based violence,” Dunbeck said.

More than 30 works were displayed, including drawings, poems and film. Participants and attendees agreed that regardless of the art form, the entire display was extremely impactful.

LSA junior Yaya Sun said the event was more empowering than she expected, especially as it was her first year attending. 

“I really think it is a great way for survivors to get their message out,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to have a safe space that they can explore their message through art. Art is a really good way of expressing your emotions that you can’t normally say. I think my favorite piece was Sam Kennedy’s ... it was very relatable.”

The work Sun referred to is “Boys Talk About Me,” which Kennedy, an LSA sophomore, described as “a collage of stupid things boys have said to or about me.” The collection includes tweets, texts and other posts of degrading statements about Kennedy, many of them sexist and, at times, explicitly violent.

Many other similar pieces expressed sometimes shocking stories and occurrences, or hopes for a better understanding of sexuality- and gender-related sexual matters.

In a multi-paneled layout titled “When You Get It,” LSA junior Maeve Pascoe placed a drawing of a girl alongside the words “just going through an endometrial shift.”

“As I sat in the laundry room of East Quad making this piece, a male student looked over as he was loading his laundry and remarked that he was impressed by my art,” Pascoe wrote. “He asked what the words meant. I explained, and he became silent. … It’s not something most people are proud of. In fact, most women view it as a burden to bear. But why would it be a burden? Should our lives be a burden? It’s a natural part of life. Embrace it or not, it happens, and it’s something I’ve come to peace with. After all, it’s just a shift."

A film played behind the art displays, which was an original creation by LSA freshman Shreya Patel for a class project.

“My first attempt at tackling this concept took a subtle approach using poetry as the audio component and abstract cultural patterns for visuals,” Patel said. “I decided to try and make a video that attempts at a resolution to the biggest area of neglect within my life.”

Many SAPAC volunteers expressed that they wanted the event to be focused on empowerment for individuals affected by sexual and gender violence, sexism and other related issues.

“I wanted to tackle my fear of coming out about sexual abuse,” Patel finished.