Students Against Sexual Violence prepares for April Art Show

Courtesy of Rebecca Ulinski | Students Against Sexual Violence | (From left to right) Artwork from last year's show included "Medusa at Peace" by Madison Walker, "Rare Little Dove" by Jay, "No Body's Home" by T.M. and "Doorstop Alarms and Mace" by Sao Mai Nguyen. Aliases, shortened names and initials were used to respect artists' privacy.

Senia Duganhodzic | Staff Writer

In Duquesne’s population of more than 8,000 students, Students Against Sexual Violence provides resources to promote healthy dating and spreads awareness about sexual violence.

As part of their mission, Students Against Sexual Violence (SASV) is hosting an art show event on April 9 in the Africa Room of the Union.

“Art itself is so expressive, sometimes you don’t have the words to describe what you’re going through but music will do it, a photograph or even a painting” SASV president Madison Walker said.

The goal of the annual event is to provide students with a creative outlet to describe what they have or are going through.

Oftentimes survivors feel ashamed to talk about their experiences and don’t know who to turn to; the art show provides an opportunity “to come all together in a room of people that have been right there with you,” Walker said. “It’s such a wonderful thing to build and to have.”

After having their trust violated in such an intimate way, many survivors have difficulty trusting again. To have an art show where the community can come together can break their silence, according to Walker.

Mackenzie Barchiesi, a participant who submitted art in the form of short fiction at last year’s art show, said that she wanted to bring attention to the topic through creative writing.

“I’m a women’s and gender studies minor. I felt inspired by the stories I heard. I wanted to write about a girl who felt ashamed because it’s a common victim response,” Barchiesi said.

Many artists submitted works of poetry, while others opted to create image-based works using photography, sculpture, collages and paintings.

Deputy Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Coordinator Anne Mullarkey Sawa has been involved with SASV for the past eight years.

“[The art show is] an opportunity for the community to come together and talk about issues around healthy relationships, boundaries and sexual violence in general,” she said.

Sawa’s mission is to promote education and prevention around dating violence and share information to the campus community. In the past, SASV has had a craft night with psychology club, poetry night with art club and meditation sessions, as well as tabling at events like Autumn Fest.

With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, campus will have a variety of different programs to advocate and educate on the topic, usually in collaboration with the Title IX Office.

“There are support measures available,” Sawa said, “even if they [students in need] don’t come to the office to address the incident. It could’ve even happened before they came to the university.”

Sawa cited many on-campus resources available to students, including Spiritan Campus Ministries, counseling and Health Services at the Wellness Center and the Title IX Office. The group also collaborates with local organization Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

Most people know about sexual violence, but they dont know how to start the conversation. Sometimes it can be awkward or uncomfortable, but it takes organizations like SASV to help connect people with tools to heal and recover, Walker said.

“People get overwhelmed – it’s an emotional disturbance [and] it changes how your brain functions,” Walker said. “The resources we have are wonderful but getting it to the people that need them is difficult because of personal shame or fear. That is the biggest roadblock.”

This art show is open and encouraged for everyone to attend. It can be intimidating to walk into a room and talk about such a heavy topic, but it is needed.

“To have an art show [where] everyone can share their stories and see that they’re not alone is a wonderful thing to support and promote,” Walker said.

Any medium of art is accepted, including writing, sculpture and music. The art show is still accepting submissions through March 30, which can be emailed to

Themes can include “boundaries, relationships, safety, love and related topics,” according to the artist call on the SASV CampusLink.

“This is something that isn’t several hours long, it’s something you can come through and visit at your own pace and own time,” Sawa said.

“We hope people take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to stop by and experience it.”