“Yes, and” Educates Pittsburgh on Sexual Consent

Published On March 31, 2016 | By Leah Kennedy | The Arts

yesandAssault statistics on a national scale reveal that rape is the most under-reported violent crime in America; in a large national survey of American women, only 16% of the rapes (approx. one out of every six) had been reported to the police. On top of that, when the offender was a current/former husband or boyfriend, about 75% of all victimizations were not reported to the police.

This Friday, CMU alum Anna Failla will set out to break the mold surrounding sexual health taboo in premiering her latest art install–an educational exhibit dedicated to Sexual Assault Awareness Month at BOOM Concepts.

yesand2“Yes, and,” reflects upon Failla’s personal journey of emotional turmoil from sexual assault, and serves as a platform for others to feel comfortable with sharing stories of their own. The exhibit will emulate the importance of educating our generation–and those who fall victim to future attacks–about not staying silent anymore.

“The goal is to continually be relating complex stories for the unheard voices.,” Failla shares. “What happened to me was terrible and scaring, but I’m strong enough to continue my life … There are people who aren’t blessed with a piece of mind and supportive friends and family. I started out in a black hole, but I grew stronger. Now I want to make sure no one else has to feel the same way I did, or feel like they are alone.”

The exhibit’s concept focuses on situations where the word “yes” may not always mean “yes.” Failla stresses the importance of opening up conversations with partners and showing them mutual respect:

“A lot of discussions regarding rape culture had been centered around the idea that “no means no,” then it transitioned into the phrase “yes means yes.” But why aren’t we talking about sexual coercion, or about when one partner is silent and too nervous to voice their opinions on what is happening to their bodies. Let’s educate people about situations where “yes” might not actually mean “yes.” I believe this concept can be, and should be applied to the world of consent, by emphasizing it to be a collaborative process where both members contribute ideas. A conversation is a dialogue between two people. It involves a “yes” and an “and.””

yesand3The “Yes, and” exhibit will feature four main art works and a handful of collaborative pieces with guest artists. The main curated pieces include “Uncontained,” a collection of anonymous poems and prose writings where individuals can detail their personal accounts; “conCENSUS,” an unstretched canvas series with pertinent information regarding sexual assault; “Fruits of the Womb,” a consensual, interactive art piece featuring hand crocheted fruit vulvas; and the “Weaving Wall” a hand-knitted wall where guests can tie their personal stories. (Guests can submit their personal stories online before the show.)

All artworks will be paired with a sculptural container including elements from each journey, as well as a bio that reflects the personalities and positive qualities of each artist. 

“Yes, and” will take place at BOOM Concepts April 1 at 6PM, during the Unblurred Crawl on Penn Ave.

Whether or not you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, you’re invited to share your support for an important cause, or even find a healing support network in a positive environment.

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