Healing Through Art
Nikita, another artist shares her story of using her art to send a message about rape.
“My work deals with a whole plethora of various issues, but one thing ties all of them together and that is the issue of rape and how it affects the lives of those that have gone through it during their lifetime. I hope that my artwork will speak to many people, however in reality it is all very personal in nature. My own voice was silenced very early in life when I was barley in high school. I dealt with some very traumatic experiences and instinctively shut myself down and refused to talk about what I had gone through. As is the case for many others in my position it continued to eat away at me for the next few years until it had grown into something I could no longer handle. As a result of the stress of it all, I ended up turning to some very destructive habits to cope with all the feelings I had been harboring. I ended up in a treatment center for anorexia nervosa which specialized in trauma resolution. It was here that I was first introduced to art as a means to express what I was dealing with. For almost a year I was surrounded by girls who had experienced rape in every form and fashion, and contrary to what it’s like in general public settings, there, it was a normal daily occurrence to share our stories and experiences. Needless to say, when I left, I continued the healing process using art. I became a painting major and since then all of my work has focused on the psychology behind rape. It speaks not only to the event of rape itself, but also to how it can affect the way women (and men) view their bodies after, what it’s like to have gone through a pregnancy as a result of rape, the sense of empowerment that comes from finally speaking out about it, and most importantly, the messages that go through the heads of people who have gone through such experiences.
When I first saw Colleen McDevit’s video “I am a Survivor of Rape” it brought tears to my eyes. FINALLY, someone was making it their mission to make rape okay to talk about. It impacted me a great deal. There were a number of paintings that I had never displayed in public shows because I still harbored some embarrassment about what I had gone through and was terrified that by showing them, people would instantly know my story, and judge me. Seeing the courage of the women willing to speak out in the video gave me the last shove I needed to get my works out for people to see instead of literally hidden like skeletons in my closet. The praise I received from people was thrilling. I had friends come and speak to me about their experiences and tell me how my art had impacted them by taking something that they had never been able to put words to right in front of their eyes. I am still a practicing artist and my work will be ever-evolving, but I attribute much of my success to “I am a Survivor of Rape” for finally making it okay to talk about.”