"Carrying on" is a body of work which deals with the relationship between the trauma of sexual assault and the aftermath, including the path toward recovery. The pieces are comprised of three stages. The first, “The trauma”, and the second, “What is taken”, and the third, “The paths.”
On April 16th, 2016 I completed a performance of "Carrying On." This performance marks the ten years since my rape and explores the trauma and recovery of those years. The stages and paths of my own recovery have been varied, both healthy and harmful. I would not abandon a single one as they have led me to be the person I am today.
Images courtesy Kelly Blackmon Photography.
A new body of work from the series Carrying On traveled to Harrisonburg, VA's Darrin McHone Gallery in April 2016.
The work of living after trauma, and particularly the trauma of sexual assault, is a kind of moving forward that is full of
weight and struggle. Though we are a family of shared statistics, every person who experiences this trauma does so
differently which is sometimes as simple as the choice between the words victim or survivor, or in some cases,
neither. In Carrying On , my work is divided into threes. I see the work of moving forward from sexual assault in stages
of surviving, overcoming, and recovering and these stages are reflected in the particular moments of trauma, shining
the light on what has been taken, and the paths we take towards healing. This is complicated stuff, and very
personal, but also the kind of thing that can and should be talked about if we are vulnerable and honest. With this
openness we create a space for change and growth.
Carrying on was originally a temporary drawing which deals with the relationship between the trauma of sexual assault and the aftermath, including the path toward recovery. The piece is comprised of three layers, with the first two drawn and hidden beneath the last. The first layer, “The trauma”, and the second, “What is taken”, are barely visible through the third, “The paths.” In 2014-2015, prior to the execution of the drawing, I have spent time interviewing survivors of sexual assault and creating work based on their stories. What has always impressed me most about these stories is that despite the magnitude of their experience, these people have become focused on recovery and the best way to heal themselves. Their stories were much more often about hope and resilience than anything else. Additionally, the paths towards healing are incredibly varied, as varied as the facts of their traumas. For me, the work over that year was especially difficult as I realized, during the course of it, that I was still reeling and healing from my own trauma. One woman I spoke with has been especially kind to me in this process and particularly understanding of the position I am placing myself in. She spoke to me about an exercise she did once: she was asked to list her trauma as facts in red. Following that she was to list everything she felt that had been taken from her, or that she had lost, in gold. And finally, she was meant to write everything that had helped her heal and all he hope she had for her life in purple. I have borrowed these ideas and the stories of everyone I have spoken with that year, including my own, for this piece.
Carrying on also features an element of the We are all statistics project #every107seconds. In the first layer, “The Trauma”, I have drawn 808 black “X” marks. In the US, someone is sexually assaulted, or faces attempted sexual assault, every 107 seconds, which is less than every two minutes. In one day, that is roughly 808 times. Additionally, while I have been in the gallery working on the piece I have had 107 seconds timed and have drawn a purple or red X on the piece each time the timer goes off. This is an extension of a project I did in public space in APril, for Sexual Assault Awareness month, and speaks towards the pervasiveness of sexual assault and its normalization, as well as the constancy of the trauma it produces.
2015. Graphite, colored pencil, oil pastel, ink, marker, charcoal and litho crayon.