ROCKLAND—Forty-five Maine artists have paired up with 50 downtown Rockland businesses to spread awareness of the impact of domestic violence this month for Finding Our Voices (findingourvoices.net), a nonprofit founded and led by photojournalist Patrisha McLean.
With window exhibits displaying banners and original art, as well as an online auction to help end domestic violence currently taking place from October 1 to October 31, all proceeds benefit findingourvoices.net
After several successful window exhibits of the “Let’s Talk About It” banners— featuring the faces of 20 Maine survivors and the local 24/7 domestic abuse hotline number that was displayed in 20-plus Maine towns this past summer, McLean, a Midcoast resident, wanted to focus on Rockland, and Midcoast artists, for October’s National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Some of the artists she contacted herself; others reached out to her and the project came together with the support of the Penobscot Chamber of Commerce and the downtown Rockland businesses.
|This painting was created in 1997 about the relationship break up. "I wanted to paint a woman who was courageous enough to leave because of the abuse. There are all kinds of abuse; you don't necessarily need to be hit. I think it often takes women a long time to leave, but sometimes you want to do something good before you leave. It's the context of balance within an unbalanced relationship—softening the blow with a pie."—Barbara Sullivan|
“Pretty much every business up and down Main Street was on board with the idea of putting a banner and/or artists’ work in their windows for the month of October to provide domestic abuse-awareness,” said McLean. “Sometimes artists gave me a choice of images and all the art pieces in the exhibit resonate with me, such as [photographer] Joyce Tenneson’s image of poppies, the beauty of it. Art heals. When you see something that beautiful, it represents the healing that takes place after domestic abuse.” Tenneson’s artwork can be seen in the window of the Dowling Walsh Gallery.
“There are two aspects to domestic violence—when you’re in it and when you get free and that’s what is represented in all of these artworks,” said McLean.
Given that the project was pulled together in a matter of weeks, some of the artists provided previously made artwork that resonated with the theme, and some created the artwork specifically for the auction.
|“The testimonies of the women who have suffered from male violence are unsettling to hear. The discomfort we feel is the proof that we have to listen, and finally recognize, that even our silence is a form of complicity. the stories told by courageous Maine women, collecting by Finding Our Voices project, insist that we can no longer tolerate silence, nor excuse violence against women in any of its forms.” —Alan Magee||"Miss Corona" is the original title of this piece in Lowry's series of digital prints. "It had to do with the coronavirus, but extends to the theme of domestic abuse. She's a porcelain bisque figurine with firecrackers coming out of her head, wearing a necklace of crystals and shattered glass. This is a piece about emotional and physical abuse - a plague of violence. Shattered glass, shattered dreams, shattered lives.”—Amy Lowry|
“During this process, a number of people let me know that they grew up with it or have been through domestic violence,” said McLean. “With others who had no experience with it, we had a good discussion of the variables of domestic abuse, to help them figure out what they might create or submit. For instance, Colin Page gave me a watercolor of the Camden Yacht Club and to me, that absolutely goes with the theme because it says domestic abuse also happens to the demographic in the Camden Yacht Club. Another example: Susan Williams gave me a painting of an island and that fits as well, because when you’re suffering from domestic abuse, it feels as though you are separated on your own island. Fred Kellogg gave me a boat in fog and yes, your brain is in a fog when you’re in domestic abuse. Or Julie Crane gave me a painting of a rabbit tumbling and it represents to me tumbling down the rabbit hole like Alice In Wonderland when you’re in domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is so complicated that if someone has been through it and they walk up and down Main Street, I can guarantee you they will find something in every one of the 45 works of art that they can relate to.”
|Maggie's “Let’s Talk About It” banner paired with Antonia Munroe’s Indigo antique damask in the window of four-TWELVE. Antonia’s piece is an homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the RBG initials forming the decorative pattern. Ginsburg was Maggie’s inspiration to help others avoid what she went through and that is a statue of the late Justice on her office desk where she is a court advocate for domestic abuse victims. Antonia’s artist statement in the fourTWELVE window includes this quote from Ginsburg: “We have yet to devise effective ways... to ward off domestic violence in our homes.”|
Finding Our Voices marshals Survivor Voices and community creativity to promote awareness and understanding the insidiousness and ubiquity of intimate partner abuse, including emotional, financial, physical, and sexual, while ending the shame for victims and empowering them to safely leave, heal, and thrive.
The event’s business sponsors are Pen-Bay Glass, Reny’s; McLean Hospital (parent company of the local Borden’s Cottage); Rockport Automotive, Camden Real Estate Co. and Camden Hospital for Animals. For more information on the auction visit: FindingOurVoices.net/Auction
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com