For Immediate Release
Contact: Deb Litman
Online Exhibition launches April 3 in support of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
CUMBERLAND, MD—The Allegany and Garrett County Arts Councils, along with partners Allegany College of Maryland, Dove Center, Family Crisis Resource Center, and Frostburg State University are proud to announce a project supporting National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The digital exhibition entitled, "What Were You Wearing?" will be available online from April 3-24, 2021, and will be available for viewing beginning 11:00AM on Saturday, April 3 at https://www.alleganyartscouncil.org/schwab-exhibition/. It will feature images of outfits based on student-survivor descriptions of the clothes they were wearing during their sexual assault. Sound files containing the stories of each survivor will accompany the digital images.
“This digital exhibition uses the power of the arts to tell these stories in a way nothing else can,” said Allegany Arts Council Executive Director Julie Westendorff. “It explores a deeply personal and sensitive topic, and creates a powerful opportunity for conversation in the home, workplace, and classroom about consent and respect.”
The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013. The project was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing. Through the years, other colleges have utilized the original installation idea to support and raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses across America. In 2019, Allegany College of Maryland Human Services students picked up on the project, inviting community residents to submit their personal stories. Students then curated outfits representing the experiences and displayed the works at the Hazen Gallery. In 2020, the Allegany Arts Council took the next step in carrying the project forward by developing a coalition of partners dedicated to raising awareness and ending sexual violence through the arts. The project further expanded by incorporating students from Frostburg State University, under the leadership of Professor Robert Hein, who photographed the work for digital display.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Resources are available through The Family Crisis Resource Center in Allegany County. Their website can be found at http://www.familycrisisresourcecenter.org/ and their 24/7 Crisis Support Hotline at 301.759.9244. In Garrett County, help can be found through the Dove Center. Their website can be found at https://www.gcdovecenter.org/ and their 24/7 Crisis Support Hotline at 301.334.9000.