The Monument quilt squares undoubtedly
have a high degree of artistic quality. The quilt
squares were created in emotionally as well as technically
supportive art workshops.
Child abuse affects
the core of people and sculpting naturally places
one in contact with core material and the soul.
The high quality of the art work reflects the expression
of core experience, inspiration and artistic technique.
It is profoundly inspiring
to know that one's hand and creative work will be
on a memorial that will have an important role in
addressing the legacy of child abuse for centuries
challenged and inspired that their
art would be part of a lasting
national monument in a prominent
public location. "Reaching Out" was being
considered for Queen's Park .
Image from Farah Khan quilt
Working in the project was a
monumental undertaking: it was natural to have some
uncertainty and fear about participating in making
an important public monument. Quilt square artist
Donna confirms, "I was scared at first, but
all the others were just as scared." We emphasized
repeatedly in our community outreach that fear should
not prevent one from starting a quilt square or
continuing through difficult times until an artistic
Most started the workshops with varying
degrees of fear, as the sculpting moved along, the
fear dissipated and survivor/artists found their
way. Donna went on to say, "I found my self
turning to my heart and feeling what was inside
of me." Participants did not have to be professional
artists to make a quilt square.
The important messages and imagery
that needed to be in the square found its way there.
Reflecting on her lengthy experience of sculpting
a quilt square Dorothy comments,
"The one thing I would tell
a survivor who was just starting a quilt square
is 'DON'T HOLD BACK." Take this opportunity
to express yourself and your feelings. Take this
opportunity to make the force that is being built
against child abuse even stronger. The only person
that you should be concerned about when doing
the square is yourself. Awareness and admission
are the best defenses against child abuse and
sexual abuse continuing or being tolerated. 'Do
Your Best and God Will Do the Rest!".
Important and powerful works of art
came out of the core energies and deep emotional
experiences of the survivor/artists within the safety
of the Monument workshops.
In my drawings you'll
see the torture we survived
Please, Please don't destroy my silent voice
Keep it safe
So we can share it
Please, Please don't throw out my silent voice
You see we must say Hello to our pain in our silent
Before we can say Goodbye to our pain we survived
child exploitation and child pornography
Each quilt square artist was
challenged to set uncertainty and fear aside. The
survivor/artists were encouraged to feel free to
dream, and to receive the support necessary to make
their artistic dreams happen.
The job of a quilt square
artist was to come up with the content and ideas
for the quilt square. Help to define and develop
artistic ideas was generously available from Michael
and the other studio assistants.
Some of the exercises
in the workshops were designed to help with conceptual
development where it was needed. Participating survivor/artists
were assured they did not need to worry about the
"how" of actually sculpting what was been
envisioned. The technical skills for turning ideas
into the relief sculpture of the quilt square would
be effectively assisted by Michael and the studio
assistants at each stage of the process.
Once the beginning sculptors
got the hang of some of the sculpting tools and
techniques, the overall form and details of the
work fell into place. After struggling very hard
with sculpting the details of his quilt square Matt
suggested to those following after him, "Don't
stress yourself out. It will come! Listen to Michael
and Jackie, etc. They know what they're doing and
talking about. Talk about it!".
Jackie Turner was a
an early workshop and became
an exceptional workshop co-leader
and a knowledgeable and effective
support for others in a variety
of project settings.
Little child, frightened
you were forced to know the truth
adult knowledge thrust upon you
drowned in a Flood of terror and despair
My shattered heart.
Little child, helpless
trapped in ways you couldn't explain
by things you didn't understand
hopeless fog and blinding depression
Little girl, lost Self
with the grief of a woman
but the soul of a child
You long for your baby
and I long for mine.
Little child, murdered
lifeless and empty
I remember, now, what happened.
Let me take what is unbearable, let me feel the anguish
I grew up for us both.
I'm here now,
I've come back for you
as I promised I would.
Give your burden to me.
Precious child, treasured Self
I know what to do now.
I know how to help.
Asking for advice and exploration
was the continual cure for uncertainty. Much effort
was undertaken by workshop leaders to present an
atmosphere of comfort in which assistance and direction
would be received as supportive advice and not as
rigid demands that offered no choice.
The quilt squares are the work of
the participants and the social messages are from
their voices, as Patricia shares:
"I enjoyed making my square
even though I have never done such work - and
the help I received. I was not told 'You can't
make that', but, 'If you want to make that I can
help you with it.' It was a safe non-threatening
The studio staff worked hard to make
the studio setting safe and part of the survivor/artist's
job was to look out for her/him self and share their
needs for emotional safety and technical assistance.
As untrained artists, participants
were making a big step and moving into unknown territory
to collaborate in making an important and historical
Monument. Ruth went through much to sculpt her quilt
square and she supported other survivor/artists
"Dare to risk - Dare to try
- feel - tell. I believed I couldn't do it. I
believed it wouldn't be good enough. I dared -
I felt - I did. It is good enough because it's
The workshop staff strove to work
together with participants to make art that communicated
the message the artists wanted others to hear. Participants
deserved to feel they were part of a team making
this Monument and creating its message together.
After making her quilt square early on in the project
Jacquelyn suggested to others,
"Work really hard to take
full advantage of the workshops because you will
get out of them what you put in. Take the opportunity
to practice not falling back on old defenses when
feelings get triggered - Working them through
will only enhance your square. It was my staying
in touch with my feelings all along that made
my square come out exactly as I wanted - I have
no regretful feelings about the square at the
workshop and I know I won't in the future."
Fellow participants in the workshops
were an important resource for ideas, support, feedback,
acknowledgment and validation. There was a sense
of freedom in sharing squares with each other and
viewing the many completed quilt squares on our
studio walls or in the set of photographs from "away
workshops." Mary suggested,
"Take heart and courage from
others' quilt squares. Take your time. Let your
own voice just speak through your hands."
As the sculptures were unfolding
it was very inspiring to receive feedback from other
participants. Others often saw a sculpture as much
better technically and thematically than the person
who created it. Workshop participants were told,
"When you see something you
like in someone else's square tell them and when
someone gives you a compliment hear it and let