Outlast Project uses artwork as outlet for coping with sexual assault

Artwork created during Rachel McKibbens's visit is on display in Lavery Library. (Photo by Will Maskrey)

By Natalie Gates staff writer

 The Outlast Project, as presented by Rachel McKibbens, came to Fisher on Oct. 24. Put on and supported by the Women and Gender Studies Program, McKibbens shared her personal story with about 40 students consisting of freshman learning communities and people coming to learn.

Two of the art projects constructed by students who attended the Outlast Project presentation Oct. 24. (Photos by Will Maskrey)

McKibbens has traveled all over the country sharing her poetry and providing an outlet to cope with hearing about trauma, specifically sexual assault. She described it as “offering a way to make the grief of your assault into art.”

She wants to stray from thinking about sexual assault in terms of data. It is so common to hear that one in four are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but it is more shocking to see a piece of art on the side of the road that represents someone’s assault. McKibbens started these ‘roadside shrines’ as a way to visualize something such as assault, rather than seeing it online. These ‘monuments’ are meant to wake people up to the prevalence of this issue, she explained.

The Outlast Project seeks to bring a focus on vocalizing things happening in your life. A culture of ownership has to be created, which allows people to take charge of their bodies and their lives.

The first part of the event focused on McKibbens’s personal life and her background, which explained why she was led to this event. The second part was an informal art project making session where students cut clippings out of magazines and created a piece of art based on their current feelings towards the topic. These art projects are displayed in the library in connection with The Clothesline Project.

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