The Koch Gallery show for the month of October will be a visual arts response to sexual abuse and harassment. Throughout the month, forums will be offered to engage the community in authentic, safe, and respectful dialogue in order to explore our shared experiences and to learn how we can come together to create a new narrative.
In 2016 Tarana Burke, Founder & Director of JustBe Inc, coined and made public the sentiment “me too” through her social work with young women of color. Actor Alyssa Milano tweeted a call to action in October 2017, asking women to post Burke’s “me too” if they had personally experienced sexual assault or harassment in order “to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The response was overwhelming and the #MeToo went viral.
VCA’s Artistic Director, Angela Gist is curating the #MyMeToo Gallery show for October. “I was inspired by the movement of women supporting each other and sharing their stories. I have witnessed many women looking back at their own lives and realizing, yes, this has happened to me. Our collective memories of sexual assault and harassment have been in many regards repressed, not because they didn’t hurt us, but because we were taught: to be silent, that it didn’t matter, that we should expect to be treated in such a way, and that if we are harassed or assaulted we must in some way be responsible for what has happened to us.”
Tarana Burke reminds us “this is a movement and not just a moment; movements take years to achieve their goals.” Gist noted “the exploration of what it means to survive this kind of assault produces emotions that words alone cannot convey. This is why it is important to me to provide an artistic platform to continue these conversations. The conviction, firing, and public shaming of a handful of public figures will not be the most important result of this movement; it will be our insistence to hold all abusers accountable for their actions and our success in changing a culture which is permissive in its attitude regarding sexual harassment.”
The #MyMeToo gallery show, artist workshops and community forums have been made possible by Beth de Groen. Beth would like to dedicate this show to all women.