A grassroots effort to support survivors takes its message to Baltimore’s Penn Station.
In the bright afternoon sun, 100 bright red quilts occupied the center plaza at Baltimore’s Penn Station. Each quilt contained a story from a survivor of rape and abuse or a message of support. For five hours this past Sunday, a sea of red fabric altered the stark concrete landscape and created a highly visible space to honor the experiences of survivors. Visitors interacted with the quilts, read survivors’ stories and joined in community.
The event on Sunday was the first public display of the historic project called The Monument Quilt. Over the next year, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture will be collecting 6,000 quilts from survivors and allies across the United States. In the summer of 2014, the collected quilts will blanket the lawn of the national mall.
“For survivors, the first step towards healing is the telling of what happened,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director. “As long as the telling of such stories is ignored or forbidden in our culture, we are hindering the process for millions of survivors to heal. By creating this quilt, we are creating the cultural space where people who have long carried a trauma in silence, may speak their truth.”
“I personally did a quilt. It was so amazing,” said Nick Jones, “…because we were talking about our experiences as survivors together. And we also had this creative space and this open space to be heard.”
In the early morning a crew of volunteers arrived at Penn Station, unfolded blankets and spread them out in the plaza. “Opening the blankets and laying them out releases the burden of the survivor in a way that is really tangible,” said one volunteer. “All the blankets gathered in the sunlight, you can feel the release, the grief and trauma airing out. Maybe you can imagine it and see the pictures and be moved, but the physical space is really different than thinking about it. You can feel the energy shifting and I didn’t realize that would happen until today.”
–Press Release from Rebecca Nagle. For additional information or to get involved in the project, please contact Rebecca via email at UpsettingRapeCulture(at)gmail.com.