Rise Above Violence to host Art Above Violence Saturday

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    Photo courtesy Ken Choat

    By Ashley Wilson
    Special to The PREVIEW
    This Saturday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m., Rise Above Violence will host the fourth annual Art Above Violence, featuring an art exhibit, auction and live performances at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts at 2313 Eagle Drive.
    This year’s theme, “Rise Up,” aims to share not just the pain, but also the triumphs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The art activism project pairs local artists, including visual artists and performing artists, with victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to tell their stories on canvases, in poetry and through interpretive dances.
    This year will have a different feel; the art has been up for auction the entire month of September, so this year, the event on Oct. 5 will be more of a sit-down live show, with a full lineup of vocal performance, dance and poetry.
    VIP hour is from 6 to 7 p.m. and there are a variety of ticket choices this year: a VIP table for two, a VIP table for four and VIP general seating. VIP tickets start at $50. Tables must be purchased in advance — you can purchase a table until 5 p.m. on Oct. 4. VIP general seating ($50) and general admission, 7 to 9 p.m. ($25), can be purchased at the door. To purchase tickets, visit: https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/t/art-above-violence-2019—rise-up-640026a0a9. Or, call Ashley at 264-1129, ext. 4.
    The art is also up for auction online. To view and bid, you can text “voices” to 88793 or visit https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/2019-art-above-violence-auction-8336 or our Facebook page for the link.
    Going into this project four years ago, we didn’t dream of how impactful it would be on the survivors and the artists. For victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the impact of the abuse is often too difficult to verbalize through words because of feelings of shame, humiliation, guilt and fear around speaking about the abuse.
    But, when paired with artists who gently draw out their stories, survivors are provided with an empowering outlet for this process, where the telling of their experiences does not have to be spoken aloud, but communicated through the powerful language of art while their identities are kept confidential. And the artists, who are profoundly affected by providing a voice to survivors, create a moving visual tribute to survivors that is surprisingly uplifting in its presentation. The most striking thing that multiple artists have shared is that after they participated, it made people around them comfortable to disclose abuse; friends and family found allies where they now knew shame would not exist.
    But, truly ending the shame of sharing is the entire point of ending silence around domestic violence and sexual assault. Those in our community who are suffering, or have suffered, should be able to share their experience without fear. Their experience was out of their control and they should be surrounded with compassion, not shrouded in silence.
    We ask the community to rise up with us and hear the voices of those in our community who have survived these experiences. Come and share in their story by standing with them to end the silence around abuse in our community. When a community stands with those who have been wounded and are willing to lift up their voices, we stand a chance to end violence. When violence is openly talked about and discouraged, when those who would joke or take lightly the ideas of abuse and assault are called out, we will see real change.
    The experience of sharing one’s story provides healing. Giving voice to something that has brought shame, doubt and pain and turning it into something about overcoming, success and triumph changes the narrative. Survivors who have participated have shared that this project brought a new level of healing that they did not expect; some became bold about sharing, others found freedom. This event impacts everyone in a different way, but one thing is guaranteed: If you choose to come, some piece of art or performance will move you. That is the beautiful thing about art and it is what makes this event extraordinary.
    Some community members have voiced concern about what the art might look like or that the event will be dark and depressing. I assure you the opposite is true. The art shows the ability for healing, the beauty that can come out of darkness. The event is fun and highlights the strength of survivors; talk with any of the artists who have participated with us for the last four years — they will share their incredible experience and let you know what you can expect.
    Art Above Violence raises funds to support Rise Above Violence, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving over 300 victims each year. Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call 264-1129.
    If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please call our 24/7 hotline at 264-9075 to receive free support and information. A crisis advocate can come to you if you need help finding a place to be safe.