21 Feb LEAVE
Exactly a week ago I decided to execute a year-old art idea for Valentine’s Day. The goal was to create posts that masqueraded as the typical visuals of the season that upon a closer look contained a viciously dark undertone. These pieces aimed to capture the feeling of painful control masquerading as love in the life of a domestic violence survivor. The hope was that the emotion of the pieces, combined with the ‘LEAVE’ message would both empower the victim and bring empathy from a casual observer, because while we are enjoying our Valentine’s somewhere a woman will experience immeasurable pain. While slitting a stuffed toy with a razor blade, melting and stabbing a chocolate heart and crushing a rose with my heel felt disgusting, the comments, shares and inboxes indicated that it met its intended purpose. A week later, I am still receiving messages of its impact. Here are the three pieces with their stories.
LEAVE Pt. 1
I had this series in my head at this exact time last year and as the insecure designer that I am, I second-guessed the concept and shelved it along with a slew of excuses as to why no one would care. Between that time and now of 40 women have been brutally murdered and countless have been stabbed, beaten, disfigured and burned in my little island of Trinidad and Tobago alone. If this affects just one person then it is my responsibility to use whatever I have to be part of the solution.
Part 2 to follow.
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LEAVE Pt. 2
After walking down this road, with a cousin, a friend, an acquaintance and the gender-based violence survivors I volunteer with, I have a way better understanding of the complexity of control masquerading as love. A view so distorted that it leaves an outsider perplexed as to why someone would even consider staying with a person that makes them feel this horrible. But those that have seen it get it. These items I destroyed and photographed cost under $200 and can be found anywhere in this season. That’s ironically representative of the cheapness of the fake love handed to you in exchange for your entire life
Part 3 to follow.
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LEAVE Pt. 3
Leaving is no trivial matter. “Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse, because abuse is about power and control.” – thehotline.org. Leaving also almost always requires support, discretion, and an untold amount of strength. But for every horror story of restraining orders violated, there are more stories of new beginnings. LEAVE CAREFULLY. Some of you are in a relationship without physical abuse but wonder why you feel like the image above. This is because control, manipulation and undermining is not normal regardless of what you have been told or seen in your family or community.
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ON Valentine’s Day, five days before she was shot twice in the chest, woman police officer Nicolette Persad refused a marriage proposal.
The most powerful feedback I received was from a mother who used my art to have a difficult conversation with her daughter. “This morning I had this chat with my 20-year-old daughter using your images. She has a boyfriend who is very attentive and buys her pretty things, but…”
While this message had me all up in my feels, in the middle of writing this blog, this story hit my Facebook feed. “ON Valentine’s Day, five days before she was shot twice in the chest, woman police officer Nicolette Persad refused a marriage proposal.” This report was swiftly followed by another that ended in death. Not much more to say here but this is why it is so important for me to use my craft in a way that impacts society positively because while it allows me to live nicely, gifts come with responsibility. Thanks to all those who interacted with my art over the last seven days.