The intention of this workshop was to explore dignity, sexualized violence, and collective meanings of healing through art and materials from the land. How do we hold dignity in our bodies? How can dignity be expressed through art-making and creating collectively? How does sexualized violence affect dignity? How does it feel? How does it affect our body?
Exploring the topic of sexualized violence requires creating and holding a safe space for participants. The materials were picked from the with intention (cedar, rocks, wood, flowers) and directives of this workshop were created to honor, and respect the personal boundaries, safety, and consent of the women participating in the workshop.
The women were asked to trace a body together on a large canvas-a body that can be any/one/many genders. When the body was created, they were asked, “How do you define dignity? How and where do you feel dignity in your body?” The women created art with natural materials that symbolized their feeing of dignity and placed them on the body. They discussed how their definitions of dignity and where they felt dignity in their bodies.
The women were asked, “How does sexualized violence affect girls, the body, and dignity?” They expressed their answers by displacing the objects on the body they had created and discussing their feelings about sexualized violence.
In the final directive, the participants were asked to create what they thought the body might need after experiencing sexualized violence. Many insights were discussed and shared after each directive and in the conclusion of the workshop.
There is so much to be said for the sounds and movement of women creating together-gathering, cutting, tying, twisting, creating, laughing, and exploring with creativity. With the subject of dignity, the body the women created was covered in dignity, ancestors, resilience, strength and futurity. The heart, created from cedar, was filled with fragrant lilies and love. The feet were grounded with stones and connection to land. Blood was recognized (and celebrated) as the life blood of women.
With the topic of sexualized violence, the women expressed fragmentation, displacement, and personal stories of violence. With the body they had created, they cut up values of resilience and displaced feelings of grounding, connection, and strength.
When the women were asked what the body needs and what could be created to heal and restore the body, there was an instinct to create together, cover the body in a blanket and fill it with honor and materials from the land.
This process speaks to the collectivity of women to create together to understand and share insightful meanings of dignity, and the effects of sexualized violence on girls, women and youth.
Photos and data poems from the dialogue and art of the women are shown in the above photos entitled Red Blood, All my relations, Strength, Cedar Heart, Grounded, Sexualized Violence and Healing.