"Art transcends all boundarires and can communicate beauty and triumph better than any language." Desmonette Hazly, Creater of We Step Into the Light
"We Step Into the Light" is a project that was started by Dr. Desmonette Hazly in 2009 to raise awareness about sexual assault, relationship and gender based violence, and stalking through art created for "thrivers," which is a term that has been chosen to replace the term "survivors".
The goals of this program are to empower thrivers and provide a safe space for thrivers in various stages of the healing process to express themselves with the help of artists. Toward this aim, volunteer thrivers will be paired with volunteer artists and in a collaborative creative process they will create a work of art that celebrates the thriver who lives a full life beyond the experience of violence.
Art for this project can be of any form, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, poetry, song, and dance. The art focuses on the dreams, goals, passions and ambitions of the thriver rather than on the assault the thriver experienced. This project will demonstrate how a thriver’s assault makes up a part of who they are, but does not define them as a person.
In this project, we recognize the power of art to inspire those who have suffered emotional and physical trauma to see their beauty and find their strength to live the lives they have always wanted. We also recognize that in addition to providing an
opportunity of healing and comfort, art has the power to raise awareness about the prevalence of assault and give the community an opportunity to better understand and support thrivers.
We focus on using art as a form of healing in "We Step Into the Light." Assault can be silencing and isolating, and can distance people from even themselves. We want to bring into the light what makes each thriver special, remarkable, and beautiful. We strive to highlight the strength, resilience, and courage of thrivers.
The art pieces, inspired by the thrivers, will express the unique value the thrivers have as human beings and how visible they truly are. This project may mark the first time someone will make a public statement about their experience of being assaulted, or it may be just one small part of their lives as thrivers. Either way, we want to create an atmosphere in which individuals are supported and appreciated, and in which there is potential to use artistic expression as a source of healing.
We are currently looking for artists and thrivers who would like to participate in this project. If you are interested, or think you may be interested and want to receive more information, please let us know by contacting Angela Han at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our plan is to meet with the artists and thrivers separately. We will then pair up artists and thrivers. The artists will contact the thrivers to schedule conversations to get to know the thriver. Interview questions are not focused on the trauma, but on how the survivor has thrived. The thriver will be asked questions such as, "What is your favorite color? What makes you special? What is
your favorite thing about yourself? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What brings you peace? What do you enjoy doing? What makes you smile? What are your ambitions?"
The artists will then work together with the thriver to create an art piece inspired by the thriver. The artwork will be a gift to the thriver.
Art created through this project will be exhibited in an opening reception on Friday, April 10th from 6pm to 9pm in the Baker Portico at the Physical Sciences Building on the Cornell University Campus. The reception will include music and refreshments. The art will then be displayed at the Mann Library on the Cornell Campus from Saturday, April 11th to Friday, April 17th.
This project is sponsored by the Cornell Women's Resource Center (CWRC).
View a clip of Dr. Hazly speaking at the first "We Step Into the Light" event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLNaUyMOu5c