Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Overcoming Domestic Abuse: Decision Portrait Series
(Above: Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. 25" x 19", unframed. 31" x 25", framed. Embroidery and assorted needles. Hand stitched main words: Starting Over. Other hand stitched words: To break the cycle of abuse; Women's Shelter; I left for good; No more false promises; Abusers never change; To save my son; Order of Protection; I ran for my life. Click on image to enlarge.)
Before leaving for England, I finished this Decision Portrait Series piece but didn't have the opportunity to post it until now. It is on display at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio for Artista Vista, the annual spring gallery crawl. I'm expecting hundreds of people to come through my space this Thursday evening. So....here's the story behind this important work.
I lost track of the number of people who asked me, "Are you on Facebook?" With several blogs, a Flickr! account, CYBER FYBER, and a Stitchin' Fingers page, I couldn't see any reason to join an on-line social network! When would I have time? Why would I want to socialize via my computer screen? It all sounded silly, except that everyone who asked me about Facebook also said that it would be a great tool for finding potential Decision Portrait Series models. So, I joined. My page is completely about this series. I honestly didn't think it would work....but it is working! I'm in communication with people I met years ago....some of whom have important, life changing decisions to share through my series. This is one of those portraits!
I met this lovely young lady through arts channels in South Carolina. She's a talented painter, a spiritual person, the mother of a four year old, and someone who had been hiding a horrible secret until a year and a half ago. Recently, we became Facebook friends; she contacted me; this portrait is the result.
(Above: Detail of Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Click on image to enlarge.)
I wish I'd known the truth. Somehow, I feel a little guilty for not knowing. Honestly, I can't imagine an abusive relationship, but I also couldn't imagine how I might react to someone in such a circumstance...until now. Through our correspondence I've learned of the pain and loneliness of leaving an abusive spouse. I've learned that so-called friends avoid the situation altogether. I've had to type replies...offering heart-felt words and cyber hugs. I hope that others seeing this portrait reflect on the difficult decision she had to make...how scary...how dangerous. I also hope that those viewing this portrait think about how they'd react to someone who'd recently made such a decision....with avoidance or with support.
(Above: Another detail of Overcoming Domestic Abuse. Click on image to enlarge.)
Support might just be passing on a link....to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to http://www.brokenspirits.com/
Posted by Susan Lenz at 8:49 PM