Sexual Violence Exhibit At Jacksonville Library Meant To Help Victims, Educate Public

Aug 1, 2017

Lone Sparrow by Marisa Yow
Credit Marisa Yow

A new exhibit at the Jacksonville Library is designed to shine a light on an uncomfortable reality: the prevalence of sexual violence.

“Survive to Thrive: Life Beyond Sexual Abuse” is meant to educate and unite the community around those affected.


On Tuesday, library art developer Shawana Brooks stood in the dead center of the Main Library’s Makerspace, which doubles as a gallery.  

“This is the beginning. So, I kind of curate from this middle part and then I work my way around,” she said.

The centerpiece, a large oil painting, is the image on the  “Survive to Thrive” marketing materials.

“The piece itself kind of starts off with a very intentional, paper bag image over this frame of a body,” she said, gesturing to the top of the 7-foot-tall frame.

“Clearly, the shoes could identify it as being a woman, but I really like to think that it could be anyone being that you don’t have the accessibility to the face,” she said.

Brooks said the anonymous human figure illustrates what experts know — sexual violence can affect anyone.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports one in five women and one in 71 men are raped, and between 40 and 70 percent of the population reports other sexual violence in their lifetimes, the highest rates among gay and bisexual people. And those are just the reported cases.

Library spokesman Chris Boivin said the exhibit is meant to offer those victims catharsis.

“It’s not just about the experience itself of sexual violence or human trafficking … but it’s about overcoming that,” he said.

The show opens during Wednesday’s downtown Art Walk. The library will also host panel discussions on sexual violence over the next three months.

A full list of artists and panelists can be found on the library’s website.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.