A travelling art show that combats sexual assault gave six local individuals the chance to start healing through art.
Sexual Assault: The Roadshow is a traveling art gallery in a 20’x8’ shipping container that invites community participation and activation. It has been travelling on a flatbed truck to 18 cities and areas in Ontario since 2016. Sault Ste. Marie is the 19th stop on the tour.
At each stop, local artists and organizations work with participants to create art that talks back to sexual violence – in all of its forms. This art is then displayed as part of the remainder of the roadshow going forward.
Saultities, led by local artist Adora-Lee Nawagesic, beaded and painted moccasins and other items in a four-part series of three-to-four hour workshops.
This artwork varies from place to place, based on whatever artist is chosen to lead these workshops at each stop in the roadshow. It’s usually the partnering organization that brings forth suggestions for which artists to approach.
The Indigenous Women’s Anti-Violence Task Force is one of this area’s local organizations involved in the roadshow.
Taylor Jolin, part of this taskforce, told SaultOnline she thinks although the people who have stopped at the gallery have been receptive, she thinks there aren’t enough men taking sexual assault and women’s oppression seriously.
“Unfortunately there haven’t been a lot of men who’ve come by, and I think that needs to change,” she explained. “Because if men already see women as people that they can oppress, then me telling a man that they’re behaviour is inappropriate isn’t going to do anything. So it needs to be other men that they respect who step up and correct that behaviour.”
Despite this, Jolin said everyone who’s responded to the gallery has said that they think it’s really good to see these conversations actually happening.
Jolin said she herself believes that the Sault is “really behind and has a lot of work to do to get people caught up to where they need to be.”
“I think if you ask people blatantly ‘Do you think rape is wrong?’ everyone’s going to say yes. But it’s more pervasive than that. If you ask somebody ‘If someone who is too intoxicated at a party to consent, if that constitutes that rape?’ I think then it gets a lot muddier.”
Jolin said she thinks that’s why it’s so important to do things like the roadshow and start the conversation as well as to give victims of sexual assault a way to voice their experiences.”
“It’s important to give voices to these experiences that everyone has had – men, women, non-binary folk – and to kind of unpack some of that shame and make people understand that almost everyone has an experience that relates to something in this container,” she explained. “And it’s not their fault, there are resources if they need it, there are people here if they need them.”
This roadshow can be found in the Sears parking lot at the Station Mall and will be on display until Saturday, Sept. 22.