McMaster University zine aims to showcase art from survivors of sexualized violence

C/O Tim Mossholder

cw: sexual violence 

Four McMaster University undergraduate students have launched a zine aimed at showcasing art from survivors of sexual violence and their supporters. It is open to McMaster students and members of the Hamilton community.

The zine is part of an initiative called Colours of Solidarity that started in 2019 for the course HTHSCI 4X03 — Collaboration and Peer Tutoring. In March 2019, the organizers created an interactive survivor art installation. This year the organizers shifted the project’s focus to the zine to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Sexualized violence is a traumatic experience that can have ranging effects on survivors, including physical, psychological and social impacts. It can also affect survivors’ sense of self and identity.

“Our zine’s focus is on survivorship . . . and we’re really just hoping to create a space where people are comfortable sharing their experience and talking about whatever it is that they feel is important. [Through the zine], we can try to support them as much as we can, while also letting them have a space where they can just be themselves and reclaim their identity,” explained Zahra Abdullah, a fourth-year health sciences student and member of the Colours of Solidarity team.

“[Through the zine], we can try to support them as much as we can, while also letting them have a space where they can just be themselves and reclaim their identity,”

Zahra Abdullah, member of the Colours of Solidarity team

The zine is now accepting submissions in a range of formats such as poetry, art, writing and photography. The deadline for submissions is to be determined, but will likely be in late March or early April.

The team has also provided some optional prompts for individuals to consider in their contribution.

Colours of Solidarity acknowledged that sexual violence is a large problem that exists institutionally at McMaster and within other postsecondary institutions. The organizers hoped that this zine can provide a safe space for survivors.

“We [hope we] can let people feel like there are others that they can reach out to people who’ve been through it to create some sort of support,” said Abdullah.

The team also recognized the importance of giving survivors the power to shape their narratives through this zine.

“I think oftentimes in a lot of these [sexualized violence] cases, survivors voices’ aren’t heard as much as we would like them to and there are often so many other factors that take priority over their own narrative, which should be the most important thing in that situation . . . This zine can serve as a springboard for survivors to talk about their own experiences,” said Sowmithree Ragothaman, member of the Colours of Solidarity team.

“. . . survivors voices aren’t heard as much as we would like them to and there are often so many other factors that take priority over their own narrative, which should be the most important thing in that situation.”

Sowmithree Ragothaman, member of the Colours of Solidarity team

The team hopes that the zine will become an ongoing initiative that can collaborate with other McMaster clubs and organizations to create safer spaces for survivors.

They have collaborated with MSU Women and Gender Equity Network for their Making Waves week campaign. This week-long event hosted survivor-centric events, including a session for attendees to create art for the zine or in general

Submissions for the zine are accepted through a Google form and any questions can be directed to the team directly at solidaritysubmissions@gmail.com.

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