Oakland, CA – Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an especially exciting yet challenging time for advocates by investing concerted and heightened efforts to raise the level of awareness and education surrounding sexual assault across on the individual, community, organizational and public policy levels. How to draw additional attention to sexual assault, advocates often ponder? Art has long served as a medium through which to share ideas/events and elicit a variety of reactions from inspiration to provocation in order to create social change.
Inspired by the stories he heard while interviewing people, Bay Area-based artist Joe Schneider developed “Breaking Silence” an exhibition using photography and interviews that revolves around survivors of sexual assault. The exhibition toured college and university campuses across the country where attendees, given a portable cd player, would walk through the room to see portrait photographs of survivors mounted and displayed on easels while listening to interviews where the survivors share their experiences. “There is a real range of the healing process [that comes appears in the exhibition]. I think some of these people are very evolved and others are much more raw. Talking about it is a good thing no matter what.”
The exhibition is meant to serve as a space where people can individually connect with stories thereby reiterating how sexual violence is an issue that impacts diverse communities. “There’s something intimate about listening to the stories on a headset,” Joe adds.