The #MeToo Movement reinforced the ongoing plight of women’s rights. Now, Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) is hosting “It’s On Us” at The Gallery, a unique art exhibit to raise awareness of sexual assault during April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event is being held April 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom on the university’s Westside campus. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“Sexual assault is difficult to discuss, so I wanted to create a powerful walk-through for people to see how prevalent the issue is and how it truly impacts survivors — a space where people could come together to discuss the issue and educate those on campus,” said senior Leah Harger, president of the It’s On Us WCSU chapter, and organizer of the event. “My objective is for this exhibit to deeply move people and give them ideas of how they can get involved in the movement. I want to showcase some of the experiences people have had and how their lives have changed through these traumatic events.”
The event will be visual and interactive, ranging from artwork and poetry to photography and music contributed by club members and other students. It will also include sexual assault and domestic violence statistics. “Art and writing tends to be a healing and processing tool for people who’ve experienced traumatic events, such as sexual assault. I was inspired to organize the gallery because I wanted to highlight art or writing that survivors may have created to help themselves heal,” said Harger.
One of the artists, freshman Samantha Cross, of Watertown, is exhibiting poems that recount her personal story and that of others, in addition to documentary poetry. “Documentary poetry is when a poet uses articles or other outside sources and information in a poem,” said Cross whose project, “Our Cultured 17.6%,” is a manipulation of articles, stories, and statistics of sexual assault and rape in America. Her poetry incorporates well-known cases, such as Dr. Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh and Kesha vs. Dr. Luke. She said that Kesha and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford showed her “what bravery looks like” and was the inspiration for her piece.