ABOUT THE ART EXHIBITION
“Hear me – See me – Believe” me is a multimedia art exhibit advocating for survivors of sexual violence. “Hear me – See me – Believe me” is an interactive exhibit created by artist, survivor, and Heart to Heart with Art Founder, Lisa Burns, with the goal of creating a safe space for survivors of sexual violence to view the exhibited art and to create their own art recognizing their own experiences to use as a vehicle for sharing their stories as part of their healing process. The first exhibition was at the Cerimon House in Portland, Oregon on the evening of Friday, March 15th.
With one infour women and one in six men* experiencing sexual assault during their lifetimes, and the recent revelations of the #MeToo movement, the prevalence of sexual violence has never been more visible in our communities. Victims span across ages, genders, and social status. The trauma of survivors isnot always visible and survivors often live under a burden of silence and shame. “Hear me – See me – Believe me” is a collaborative exhibition, bringing together survivors and empowering them to give a voice to their stories in support of change and healing.
Having a victim breakhis or her silenceabout the deep and terrifying secret of sexual violence empowers the victim to transform to a survivor mentality and begin thriving. This exhibition, through photography and film, shows how it feels to be abused and the long-term effects that sexual trauma has on a survivor’s life,including the effects ontheir relationships. By sharing victims’ feelings and traumatic experiences in this exhibition, the hope is to educate families, friends, and those who have never experienced this type of trauma about how it feels to be sexually violated so that others can begin to understand how to best empathize and offer meaningful support to survivors.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION’S ARTIST, CURATOR & SURVIVOR:
ART HEALS AND BRINGS BEAUTY TO OUR BROKEN PLACES
The “Hear me – See me – Believe me” multimedia art show is a visual essay of how I processed and moved through my feelings about the sexual traumas that I experienced multiple times throughout my life: being raped at the age of four by a neighbor, being presented to the neighborhood pedophile at the age of six, raped again at twenty-five by someone I knew, and most recently being sexually assaulted by a stranger at age forty. With the current political environment, I felt compelled to break my silence and join the #MeToo movement to share my experiences with the larger community. I feelit is also important to bring awareness to the social stigmas against survivors, and their resulting feelings of further victimization. The intention of this exhibition is to connect and spread the message that ‘you are not alone’ to other survivors and to offer hope that healing from sexual trauma is possible. I not only wanted to encourage other survivors to break their silence, but to help them do it! The photographic images in the exhibition don’t focus on the events themselves, but what happened to me as a result of being sexually violated. For me, this exhibition is about finding beauty in my broken places and breaking out of the cocoon of the past to find healing. It’s about stretching my wings through letting go and transforming to be free like a butterfly. As an artist and a survivor, creating this artistic platform to share with others is my way of dealing with my own anger and shame of not having control over what was done to me and not having justice served; but instead I am turning my pain into a positive by connecting and helping other survivors to heal and also bring awareness to those who haven’t experienced this type of trauma. Breaking my silence was one of the hardest things that I have done, but the freedom and healing that followed was absolutely worth it! I feel so fortunate to also have exceptionally supportive people surrounding me in love. Without them, none of this would have been possible. My greatest hope is to pay it forward and offer the same love and support to other survivors. I am beyond honored to capture other survivor’s stories through art and to share them with others and the world.
A SPECIAL NOTE OF THANKS:
A special heartfelt thanks to my family, friends, therapists, other survivors and both my GABB and C4 Survivors group for nurturing me during this very difficult process. I would not have been able to break my own silence without your love, hugs, notes of encouragement, and your shoulders to cry on.
To my parents who did the best they could with the tools they’d been given, please know that you are completely forgiven. Your love and support for my healing from these traumas long outweighs any anger from the past: thank you for all you have done and continue to do. Remember and focus on what you have done right over the years; I am still standing strong despite all the unfortunate traumas; and I love you both very much.
Deep gratitude to all the brave survivors who participated in this artistic project for healing. I am blessed to know you. I am inspired by your bravery and your own unique healing processes, which are transforming the unimaginable nightmares of your past. Thank you for standing with me, breaking your silence, we are not alone!
To my cousins Barb and Aubrey Frimoth who were the first in our family to break their silence years before I did. It was Aubrey’s bravery that inspired me to create this art show and to put my own face on the poster, just as she had done years ago for an event at her university. At the time, I was so worried about what others would think of me if I told my “dark secrets” that I remained silent for almost five years after Aubrey’s initial email with our family. I eventually realized that if Aubrey could do it, so could I.
The art exhibition was made possiblebycollaborating with other amazing artists. The names of all contributors are listed below, but the two that I collaborated with the most with were Madeline Philbrook and Katherine Kimball:with all of our artistic juices flowing, we made meaningful and moving art that touched my heart and others. Thank you for helping me bring my vision to fruition and share my story. Working with you was a life-changing experience that helped me along in my healing process.I am truly grateful.
Thank you to all the supporters who financially contributed to the“Hear me – See me – Believe me” project or helped physically with the exhibition. The filming, studio costume changes, photographing, marketing, and exhibiting our stories was only possible because of you. Your support helped us break our silence and we are all deeply grateful. The individual names of my helpersare listed below.
Thank you also to the Cerimon House in Portland, Oregon for hosting our very first art exhibition. Dianna Fontes, I can’t thank you enough for taking a chance on this controversial show and for all your work in making it happen — I was thrilled with the exhibition’s success, which exceeded my expectations. Events like this would not happen if it weren’t for people like you, thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET INVOLVED?
It is our dream to bring this art exhibition to as many people as possible. If you wish to help,here are some ways you can help. Thank you in advance!
- Financial Contributions to our GoFund Me: the money goes to support the artists filmingadditional survivor stories and to future exhibitions so that we may share our survivor stories and messages.
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to show our exhibition at our event or gallery.
Scott and Glenda Burns
Oregon Community Foundation Grant
Devon and Mark Newman
Bonnie and Charlie Combs
Katharine Kimball, Katharine Kimball Photography
Madeleine Philbrook, Moment Videography
Shanti Martin, PDX Photolounge
Heather Vine, Vine Design
Kristal Passy, Studio Northwest
Brandon Treadway, Treadway Events
Dr. Julie K. Guertin
The Cerimon House
Mariane Van Meergeren
Dr. Wendy Neal
Dr. Joyce Endo
Dianna Fontes, Astroartistry.com
Jessie Huerta, CEO, Dreamland Boxing
Gina Huerta, Executive Director/ Secretary, Dreamland Boxing
Sandra, Coach, Dreamland Boxing
Dee, Coach, Dreamland Boxing