Every day, people throughout the world become victims of sexual assault. Many of these victims never report the incidents to police. Sexual assault is a crime that is rarely talked about in society because its deemed shameful. Kimberly Olson is breaking down the social fear of speaking of sexual assault by bringing her own experiences and healing journey to canvas. Her art show, Emotional Journey through Sexual Assault, features herself as the subject to get people talking.
The whole purpose essentially, for me, the most important aspect, is getting people talking whether theyre comforted by looking at this show because they can relate to it, or perhaps having a conversation with their child or a friend or maybe it will prevent something from happening in the future to someone, said Ms. Olson.
The art show created by Pynelogs artist in residence features eight works of personal trauma in which Ms. Olson is the subject plus four other pieces. The emotion invoked in the collection comes from her own journey healing from four sexual assaults. Her most recent assault took place on a trip to India. Upon returning home, she began to create her artwork.
I had a really hard time coming back from India. It took a good three months to get back into the swing of things. I think coming back was harder than anything. I was only gone for five months three months in India, two months in Thailand. I think I was really upset at how things worked over here and how materialistic we are, said Ms. Olson.
She returned to the Columbia Valley in June 2015 and then applied for the artist in residence position at Pynelogs in November. After getting the residency, she began to create this collection, taking eight months to create the images and assembling the pieces together. Each individual artwork represents different emotions or reactions to sexual assault.
Shame and Guilt was something I really hated working on because it evokes the most emotion for me. Its the most difficult and I think its the one Im still working on internally, said Ms. Olson.
Her favourite piece is titled Resilience. It shows the confidence Ms. Olson has in herself and where she wants to be. The journey getting to resilience has not been easy, but after exhibiting her collection at Pynelogs from July 26th to August 7th, Ms. Olson is now preparing to take her art show on tour to other non-profit galleries.
Its serious stuff, its heavy, Im very empathic and I feel a lot of things and its going to be a big growing process for myself as well. Its not comfortable, but I know its necessary. I will sacrifice my comfort levels to put this out there and hopefully help someone, she said.
Although the show is focused on sexual assault, her collection focuses on healing from trauma. Ms. Olson says that, as a society, empathy is something we lack.
A lot of people have opened up about their own experiences, not only about sexual assault but with other traumas, being able to resonate with these emotions even if its grief or death of a loved one, it could be anything.
The Emotional Journey through Sexual Assault is a collection that advocates for healing, self-love, and empathy for those affected by traumas. By giving a platform to openly discuss abuse and victim shaming, Ms. Olsen hopes the art show will have an impact.
I think instead of placing doubt on the victims of assault, theres part of me, the optimistic side of me, thats like, Lets just show each other more compassion and love and be real and human with each other so we can get through these difficult times. Its so important to be authentic with our suffering no matter what types of traumas we experience in our lives, being authentic reaching out to each other.