Downtown library showcases sexual assault awareness art exhibit

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Galina Swords | Arizona Daily Wildcat

The first floor of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library features a small area with cafe tables and wooden towers. This is where the Art Against Sexual Violence exhibit will be displayed.

Among the wide array of artwork featured in downtown Tucson’s prominent showrooms and galleries, one unassuming public building displays works with deeply important social messages.

The Art Against Sexual Violence exhibit will be showcased at Pima County’s Joel D. Valdez Main Library on North Stone Avenue until Aug. 31. As part of a campaign by The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, the collection will include artwork by those who are survivors of sexual violence.  

“The organization’s mission is to reduce the trauma and incidence of sexual assault by providing treatment and promoting prevention of sexual abuse, incest, molestation and rape,” the library’s exhibit information said.

With paintings, photographs and mixed media works, the display is sure to hit an emotional nerve with anyone who sees it.

This free event will help bring to light the rate of sexually violent acts committed in Arizona. According to SACASA, “One out of five adult women in Arizona … have been victims of one or more completed forcible rapes during their lifetime… Three percent of adult men in the US have experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime.”

As these statistics become more of a reality in Arizona, art itself becomes an increasingly important creative outlet to those who have personal experiences with sexual violence.

In a 2012 article on the healing effects that experiencing and creating art can have on sexual assault survivors, Michelle Wolff, coordinator for the 17th Judicial District Sexual Assault Response Team in Colorado, told The Denver Post, “I think a lot of survivors struggle with how to express themselves, and I don’t think our society really has the words to express what they went through. They need an emotional outlet, and art, I believe, is easier for them to access.”

Whether you have a personal experience with sexual violence or are just looking to learn more about how art plays a role in the prevention and awareness of these crimes, the pieces at Joel D. Valdez Main Library are sure to create a moving experience.

The works will be available to view during the library’s normal business hours on the wooden art display towers in the library’s cafe section of the first floor.


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