I felt like this would not only be important to my own healing, but would be something that could affect other people.
Fine arts student lends powerful artistic perspective to #MeToo
New multimedia exhibit tackles the painful struggle to recover after the life-shattering experience of sexual violence.
By GEOFF McMASTER
It isn’t something she could have planned, but Becky Thera’s final presentation for her master’s degree in fine arts could not have arrived at a better time.
Joining a rising chorus of voices, Lacuna explores the difficult and painful journey from sexual violence to recovery. While thoroughly researched, the latest exhibit in the U of A’s Fine Arts Building Gallery also reveals Thera’s personal struggle to come to grips with the sexual assault she endured shortly before arriving on campus three years ago.
“I felt this urgency to talk about these really difficult experiences that I was having, and I felt quite alone, like I didn't have a voice,” she said. “There was all this disassociation and misplaced fear…. It doesn't begin and end with a violent situation—it's the whole aftermath of how it affects your life and the people around you.
“I felt like this would not only be important to my own healing, but would be something that could affect other people."
Thera uses a variety of media to convey the emotional turmoil of her struggle—from photography to video to silkscreen and embroidery—all charting her evolution from confusion and isolation to eventually finding solace in community.
According to Sean Caulfield, Thera’s thesis supervisor, the exhibit “does a wonderful job of using art to create a space of contemplation about the difficult subject, that in turn fosters an alternative mode of discourse for viewers.
“Some of the work is deeply personal and resonates with a quiet, introspective quality. Other works address the importance of community engagement and support, and the vital role that activism can play in relation to this issue.”
Most rewarding in the three-year process of putting the show together was connecting with so many other victims eager to share their own stories of sexual violence, said Thera.
"As soon as people hear you’re doing this kind of work, they want to talk about it. As I healed, I was able to open up and listen to other people’s stories as well. That was an essential part of this research—it wasn't just about me anymore, it was about other people."
Now that this work is done, however, Thera said she’s ready to move on to less taxing subjects.
"It's been a difficult three years, so I'm looking forward to doing things that are maybe a bit lighter, a little less personal."