What Were You Wearing? A Project Supporting National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Exhibition

April 3-24, 2021 • • Free

A NOTE TO VIEWERS:

This digital exhibition features real stories of survivors of sexual assault and may be sensitive to some viewers. A digital format was chosen to offer a quiet, private way to view the work without an audience, and to allow viewers the opportunity to respond in whatever way feels most appropriate. This exhibition is intended to stimulate and provoke honest discussion about sexual assault, address our attitudes towards those who have experienced it, and learn how we can better support one another. 

Resources are available at the bottom of this page should you need support or assistance.  

VIEW THE GALLERY

 

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 pleased 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 open at 11:00AM on Saturday, April 3, 2021, here.

About National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact – either in person or online, including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. Sexual assault can be perpetrated on anyone, male or female, regardless of gender identity, age, ethnicity, or ability.

April represents National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time in which we, as a nation, raise awareness, educate, and share information about misconceptions related to sexual assault and the trauma its survivors experience.

What Were You Wearing: The Beginning

The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013. Created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, 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, once more inviting community residents to submit their personal stories. Students then curated outfits representing their experiences and displayed the works at the Hazen Gallery.

In 2020, the Allegany Arts Council took the next step in carrying forward the project by developing a coalition of partners dedicated to raising awareness and ending sexual violence through the arts. All too often, our preconceived notions about sexual assault are incorrect -  many assume victims of assault were “asking for it,” or “placed themselves in difficult positions,” but the reality is most survivors are going about their daily lives when sexual assault enters their world.  Accompanying the digital images will be sound files containing the stories of each survivor represented. The project further expands by incorporating students from Frostburg State University, under the leadership of Professor Robert Hein, who will photograph the work for digital display.

Very special thanks to those who read stories of the survivors for the digital exhibition, including Cherie Snyder, Jessica Nolan, Kendall Ludwig, Elizabeth R. Gilbert, Lynne Elmlinger, Jennifer Browne, and Ryan Brenneman.

*The above photo includes students in the original Allegany College of Maryland Human Service Program Class of 2019, top row left to right: Natosha Shaw, Syully Horning, Chelsea Grace, Penny Koontz; middle row left to right: Layce Northcraft, Savannah Turner, Kristin Thomas, Megan Yutzy; bottom row left to right: Emily Fram, Katie Whitacre, Kayla Swauger, Sam Vega
The bottom photo includes students from Frostburg State University who supported the exhibition with photography: from left to right: Brice Threatt, Melvin Kiah, and Gray Waters. The far right is Garrett Webb, Arts Council Gallery Assistant. Students not pictures include Matt Knies, Courtney Chambers, and Brandyn Saunders.

Why Digital?

More than ever, our world is becoming more digitally focused, creating a new set of challenges and opportunities for abuse. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which sponsors the annual April campaign, has focused its 2021 effort on the development of safe online spaces, where consent is practiced, respect is given, and where those who have experienced sexual violence can find support and resources.

Resources

Resources are available locally and at the federal level for survivors, their families, and for more information about prevention.

Prevention Resources
Survivor Resources

The Family Crisis Resource Center serves Allegany County and offers support and services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse within the community.”

If you need help:

24/7 Crisis Support Hotline: 301.759.9244
Text Message (SMS) Support Line: 301.970.4242
Webchat Support: rc.chat/fcrc

The Dove Center of Garrett County offers safety, advocacy and counseling to individuals whose lives have been shattered by domestic violence and/or sexual assault, and strives to expand public awareness of these issues.

24/7 Crisis Support Hotline: 301.334.9000

Help is available and you are not alone.

**Special thanks to Kendall Ludwig of CurlyRed for her contributions as designer for this exhibition.


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