Annual Art Show kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor | Founder of Students Against Sexual Violence (SASV) Rebecca Ulinski created "Series of Collages" for the annual Art Show on Tuesday evening. Her work focused on her interpersonal relationships. The event gives students and survivors of sexual violence the opportunity to process and relate their experiences to attendees and community members.

Senia Duganhodzic | Staff Writer

In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Students Against Sexual Violence (SASV) hosted their annual art show in the Africa Room during the evening of April 9.

SASV president Madison Walker explained the importance of community and campus support. By holding an art show, students and survivors can submit pieces, gain camaraderie and create community, which reflects the ongoing mission of SASV.

“To make such a positive event out of something that was so challenging, is so important to support. To have so many people here makes me smile,” Walker said.

Because the event accepted diverse mediums of work, submissions were able to better reflect individual and personal experiences.

“I’ve really loved poetry all my life. I do it spontaneously if something comes to me, I’ll write it down. It’s the best way for me to express myself,” senior Acacia Puleo said.

Puleo showcased her poetry at the event, some reflecting fictitious materials and some revealing her personal journey. Two of her creative works reflected toxic relationships and explored unhealthy boundaries.

“The other pieces I wrote were based on my own life experience. I’ve experienced a lot of harassment in my life,” Puleo said. “[These poems are] an expression of myself and what I’ve been through.”

Art is often regarded as a positive outlet for stress and can be therapeutic for many. Through music, art and dance, survivors can find ways to cope and process what they’ve experienced.

“The hopes for this show is to raise awareness of the actual lived experiences of students on our campus regarding instances of sexual violence, and also issues with relationships in general,” said SASV founder Rebecca Ulinski.

Ulinski explained the three pillars of the organization, which are activism, advocacy and awareness. The event provided a safe and calm environment to reflect, process, express and heal.

Having submitted her own art, Ulinski explained how the medium she chose better reflected her interpersonal experiences.

“Collages have been an effective way for me to document my life. I’m always saving little scraps of paper, magazine pieces and ticket stubs. I like to collect little pieces of my life and smash them all together. They really focus a lot on relationships with others and myself,” Ulinski said.

Through the presentation of art, the club was able to create meaningful awareness while simultaneously offering a space to self advocate or advocate for others.

“This art show means unity to me. It means love. It means community. People are showing that they are standing with you. They’re not turning a blind eye, like the world sometimes does,” Puleo said.

Sadly, many survivors don’t feel comfortable going to the Title IX Office.

“They don’t want others to know that this is happening to them because it makes them feel weak,” said SASV secretary Aly Chomenko, “but in actuality it can be viewed as a strength.”

“Sexual assault is very prevalent even though its kept very hush hush,” Chomenko said.

As the month continues, the Title IX Office will also host events pertaining to sexual assault, dating violence and healthy relationships. On April 11, the annual “Cover the Cruiser” event will return, where students cover a Duquesne University Campus Police car in messages of support for survivors.

On April 17, a self-defense workshop will be held on the fifth floor of Gumberg Library, where students can learn and discuss ways to prevent sexual violence on campus.

The art show served as a starting opportunity for the campus to come together and talk about important issues around sexual violence.

“I hope it gives people the sense of support that they’re able to share their own stories,” Walker said. “To have people show up and continue giving their support is wonderful.”