March 25, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It can be challenging for institutions to find a way to unite and educate the community about the issue. Rexburg’s Family Crisis Center decided to put on an exhibit.

Last year, the organization brought the national “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit to Rexburg.

Julie Leavitt, the public awareness coordinator for the Family Crisis Center, said many people who attended the exhibit wondered if the stories were local. This year they wanted the exhibit to be more local with participation from the community.

“We want them to feel like they are not alone and that whatever they’re experiencing is totally valid,” Leavitt said. “We also want to create a space where people, like allies, can take a stand against this.”

The exhibit is titled, “Healing through the Arts of Survivors and Allies.” The exhibit will feature artwork of local artists they have submitted about sexual assault.

It will be open April 3 through April 5 in the Hemming Village foyer. On the evening of April 4, there will be live performances, like dances or music, in the Atrium at Hemming Village.

The gallery will be an ascending experience. The base level will have pieces representing the trauma victims initially experience. As you go up the stairs the gallery will transform to represent the vulnerability and acceptance that follow. The final level will represent the hope that eventually immerges.

Leavitt said they have had a lot of submissions. From writing, poetry, dance, photography, painting, digital illustration and more. “It’s a really wide variety,” she said.

The Family Crisis Center is still accepting submissions through March 29 and are looking for more live submissions.

“I’m just so humbled every time we get another submission in and someone is willing to share something so personal,” Leavitt said.

You don’t have to be a survivor to submit. Just as the title of the exhibit denotes, you could be an “ally” or someone who wants to stand against these kind of crimes.

Leavitt said lots of students are really passionate about this topic and want to take a stand against it but don’t know how. This exhibit is the Family Crisis Center’s way of giving them that opportunity.

“We also just want to help increase the empathy in our community for survivors of sexual assault,” Leavitt said.

She explained she has received submissions from people as far away as Blackfoot and Montana.

“It just shows that it really is an issue everywhere. I think it’s really easy to think, we live in such a great community which we do” she said. “But it’s easy to think that we’re in a bubble and we’re super safe. And realistically those crimes they still happen here at a much higher rate than most of the community, I would say, is aware.”

The exhibit is free for anyone who wants to attend and view it. There may be some pieces of art that have a content warning due to the raw and unapologetic nature of the piece.

For more information or ask about submitting your work contact Julie Leavitt at juliel@familycrisiscenter.info.