BY ANNISTON WEBER
Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services and Jana’s Campaign are hosting a survivor art installation in the Center for Applied Technology building on campus.
The display, titled “What Were You Wearing,” showcases the different clothing items individuals were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. The intent behind the exhibit is to shatter the myth that sexual assault is caused by the clothing a survivor was wearing at the time of their attack.
Morgan Hart, the volunteer specialist at Options, helped set up the exhibit along with Linda O’Neal, the outreach advocate at Options and Jana’s Campaign volunteers.
“Options’ role in setting up the exhibit is to help viewers understand that sexual assault is never the about the clothing a survivor was wearing,” Hart said. “Changing your clothes does not end the trauma. We must change our mindset as individuals and as a society. The focus of this installation is to bring life to the stories of actual survivors of sexual assault and show the age ranges in which some have dealt with this abuse.”
Both Options and Jana’s Campaign have booths set up with more information about the exhibit and their organization.
“Options and Jana’s Campaign help sexual abuse survivors on college campuses by raising awareness about sexual assault,” Hart said. “Both organizations also give presentations to classes, and host events which let others know that services and resources are available.”
Because of the content of the art installation, an advocate will be present during the exhibit’s open hours.
“The outfits displayed in the installation are all inspired from actual university student survivors of sexual assault,” Hart said. “There is a range of clothing and scenarios. For example, there’s an outfit of a soldier wearing Army ACUs and carrying a gun. There is also a story of a survivor who never wears dresses anymore because they remember wearing that dress when they were abused as a child, and then abused again as a teen, and then again when they were in college. The stories are the point of impact with the installation.”
The art installation was inspired by the poem “What I Was Wearing” by Dr. Mary Simmerling. The first exhibit of its kind was displayed at the University of Arkansas on March 31, 2014.
The exhibit is open from Thursday, April 15 until Friday, April 16 until 5 p.m. It is located in the Center for Applied Technology building on the FHSU campus.