sculptor Michael C. Irving, Ph.D., himself
a survivor, initially conceived of a plan
for a Memorial Monument for Survivors of Child
Abuse. Michael says, "The major motivating
force behind the desire to create a monument
was the call to action of the witness. I was
working with survivors of profound child abuse.
As both an artist and a psychotherapist, in
many sessions in which terribly tragic stories
of abuse were related, I had thoughts about
the need for a memorial to acknowledge and
address these brutally grave acts against
innocent and vulnerable children. Also, as
a child, I had witnessed other children being
cruelly treated and even maimed by very sadistic
adults. It seemed the resolution of my grief,
despair and sadness over these events called
for remembrance and memorial, perhaps even
in a social manner."
A visit to the
Vietnam Wall and the Holocaust museum in Washington,
DC helped Michael finalize his considerations
of sculpting a child abuse memorial.
C. Irving, Ph.D. began discussing the concerns
of a child abuse memorial in 1990 and wrote
the project business plan in 1995.
apropos that one of the
first quilt squares stated, "I've been
to Nam and I've been through child
abuse, and child abuse was tougher".
Michele, age 8, contributes
a hand stating, "If child abuse won't stop,
then war won't stop and there will be no peace
in the world.
From 1990 to 1995, Michael
shared his ideas with other survivors, clinicians,
and artists in Canada and the United States,
and listened to their feelings and feedback.
In 1995 a formal business plan for The Survivor
Monument Project was written up. Following
numerous strategy and planning meetings, the
first gathering of survivors met in April
of 1996 to launch the project and by the fall
of 1996 the project name had evolved to The
Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project and
a design for the "Reaching Out" Monument was
As an artist, his vision
was the creation of a visually integrated monumental
bronze sculpture produced in collaboration with
small groups of survivor/artists. The collaborative
component of the monument, the sculpting of
the Monument Quilt, also allowed the creation
of an independent collection of art works. The
project is innovative in its process, product,
goals and image design.
Striving for a visually
integrated monumental bronze sculpture
produced in collaboration with small groups of
During 1996, Michael supervised
a group of fellow survivors in an extensive
arts research project during which, over a four
month period, elements of the Monument Project
such as materials, process, and design were
In the 1996 art research project
for the monument, several sizes of quilt palettes
were sculpted to identify the best visual
effect and use of space for survivor/artists'
hands, art and messages. It was determined
that ten inch sculpted quilt squares would
After experimenting with earthen clay, plasticine
and microcrystalline wax, it was decided that
the wax was the best sculpting medium for
the quilt square process.
Each survivor/artist in the art research group
worked with a uniquely different conceptual
image on their sculpted palettes.
Louise created two similar
quilt squares with the hand as a print in
one and the hand reaching out in the other.
Michael worked with an interesting conceptual
image of a portrait of himself as a young
child sculpted in the form of his adult hand.
Rob did four different variations
of the hand as an expression of rage, and
another survivor/artist sculpted Robert Munch-like
screaming figures around the hand.
Cathy worked with the expression
of energy through curved lines and a simple
but poignant question written onto her square.
Through our many test squares,
it was decided that the image of the hand
coming out of the palette rather than indented
in as a print, was a far more powerful image
Together we can make
and heal our hearts.
Heather age 24 "Cycle against abuse."
Michael's detailed quilt
four years for him to complete.
In the fall of 1996 L.'s
was the first one completed for the monument.
Like Michael, Grant's
began with the original art research
team and took four years
"Together we can
It is not an easy thing to live.
Let's work together to stop ABUSE!
In 1997 collaborative
quilt squares for the monument began to be
created on a regular basis.
Creating the Child Abuse
Survivor Monument Project has been a community
effort. The design and details of the final
monument, the art exhibition and the public
awareness campaign were created and refined
through small and large group discussions. The
project is the concerted effort of survivors
as well as individuals and organizations who
lent their support to this issue.
Community outreach and liaison has allowed subsequent
meetings and committee memberships to include
representatives from many diverse social agencies,
organizations and groups. All members have a
positive interest in or are currently serving
children, youth or adults who have been abused
or sexually abused.
In 1997, the Board formally
incorporated as a non-profit organization
and developed an impressive Circle of Friends
as well as a number of working committees.
The Project was featured in full-page newspaper
articles, on radio and television, held a
benefit concert, published newsletters, received
long-term commitments for in-kind donations
and has launched an Internet web site (www.ChildAbuseMonument.org).
After completing his sculpted
square in the first workshop,
Gary went on to further sculpting
and began having well received
public exhibitions of his work.
In the first workshop,
on the the quilt square of an artist
who later committed much time
to the project, but like many
participants, wanted to maintain
her public anonymity.
B.'s square from the first
was inspired by, and dedicated to,
the thoughts and feelings of
another survivor. Many squares
on the monument have had some element of acknowledgment
or remembrance for others.