November 17, 2019

Domestic violence survivors find healing through art workshop

“A lot of survivors have been told they’re stupid, worthless and have nothing important to say,” Women’s Wisdom Initiative founder Caroline Lovell said. “I think their resilience is remarkable and it needs to be shared.” 

Traveling Postcards: Healing Arts Workshop was held on Oct. 11 in the University Center Presentation Room. Caroline Lovell, the founder of the nonprofit, the Women’s Wisdom Initiative (WWI), said her favorite traveling postcard she has received is from a student at the University of Virginia who is a survivor of sexual assault. This student said Lovell’s workshop helped her find her voice again through creation. Now, Lovell wants to bring that concept to Webster. 

“[The Postcards] are self-portraits. They are the essence of the person who made them,” Lovell said. “Once this student was able to see herself reflected in this card, she felt better. She began to heal. I’ve held onto her card because I find it so meaningful.” 

 The event was held in light of a series of events held at Webster for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the room, tables were covered in glue, paper, scissors, magazine cut-outs, glitter and, most of all, blank postcards. 

The idea of the workshop exists to allow survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their allies to make postcards for other survivors of violence. They create art on the front of the card and write a note if they choose on the back of the card. 

The cards they make are given to Lovell, and Lovell hand delivers each card to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis shelters and anywhere else the cards may help those in need. In the 10 years WWI has been around, Lovell has traveled to universities during October to help students through the healing arts workshop. 

“Traveling Postcards reminds you of who you are,” Lovell said. “Art has the ability to do that– bring you to your core despite what’s happened to you. The point is to give everybody that voice. In some cases, give their voice back and in others to just allow them enough room to speak.” 

“Traveling Postcards” is meant to be a 90 minute workshop with a beginning, middle and end. Most of the Webster students and staff were passing by in between classes with only 20 or 30 minutes to spare, so Lovell said she did what she could to give them this experience. 

Sophomore and Student Government Association President Sarah Hill worked on a card during the workshop. Hill was excited about this workshop because she felt it was  important to talk about the issue of violence. 

Women’s Wisdom Initiative founder Caroline Lovell said survivors of sexual assault have found their voices after participating in the workshop.

“It’s a good opportunity for students and all the members of the Webster community to be a part of a conversation that I think sometimes we forget about,” Hill said. “We have a Title IX office. They do a lot of events, but I think we can always talk more about these issues and what it means to be a part of a campus culture that does talk about them.” 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator Lori Watson, who helped put this event together, also made a postcard during the workshop. Before working with Title IX at Webster, Watson was a music therapist. Her experience in art healing extends beyond the workshop. 

“We thought [bringing this program to Webster] would bring people to a place where they can not only relate to the material they are working with, but they can come away with an education and awareness to other people besides themselves,” Watson said. “It’s a looking-outward program.” 

Some of the postcards students made were colorful, some of them not, some made with randomness and some with careful planning. Each one written on in a different color pen about love, strength, acceptance and beauty. 

“A lot of survivors have been told they’re stupid, worthless and have nothing important to say,” Lovell said. “I think their resilience is remarkable and it needs to be shared.” 

Webster will be hosting three other events this year surrounding these issues. Visit  this link for more details. 

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