Voices: Beyond the Walls (2018-) is a community engaged project that I have been working on as an effort in advocating for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence through researching, recording, and remembering their stories. As a survivor myself, I have often wondered whether my healing process was normal, valid, or if my progress somehow erased my experiences from my past. But as I collect these stories, I am reminded that there is no one way to experience these things, there is no one way to heal from them, and that my experiences are mine to share, or not share, as a I please. In engaging with this work I hope other survivors feel this way, too.
The work itself is made in several stages. To begin, the undergarments that are used have been collected from survivors on campus at my college and in the larger Central Florida community where I have lived for the past 22 years. These garments are then altered and set aside while they await the embroidery process. In finding the stories, I have researched the experiences of advocates and survivors throughout history and from the present era, each chosen to highlight different aspects of the survivor experience.
As I embroider these words into the fabric of these garments, I feel myself connecting to the process of women throughout history whose use of embroidery was often the only tool at their disposal – be it in asylums or in the home – to record their stories and embrace their voices. Although these experiences certainly impact the lives of people ar any age, of any gender, and from any walk of life, remembering the quiet toiling of survivors and advocates past fuels my passion to continue working to help bring these voices beyond the walls and into spaces where healing can be supported and embraced.